Two models planned for release in the second half of next year would feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models.
If true, this could make life difficult for Android producers, including Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF), and answer Apple investors' "innovation concerns."
Larger displays and a phablet?
According to the unnamed source, Apple is planning to release both a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch phone. The 5s is currently 4 inches; compare that to Samsung's flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, which comes in at nearly 5 inches. Apple recently increased the size of its screen between the refresh of the 4S and the iPhone 5 and received positive feedback from this change. More importantly, a 4.7-inch phone substantially negates Samsung's screen size advantage.
However, the interesting tidbit in the screen size story is the 5.5-inch phone. That is large enough to be considered a "phablet." Apple investors know that the company is eyeing China. A phablet may be the best way to grow in that market. Phablets haven't caught on in the U.S., but are exploding in popularity in Asia-Pacific. Matter of fact, recently phablets outsold both tablets and portable PCs in that region. Apple has left this market uncontested for Samsung's Galaxy Note series in the U.S. and lower-priced manufacturers in Asia-Pacific.
And a curveball
The shocker was the report of Apple's curved glass. Technically, Samsung already has a product in this space, the Galaxy Round. While it created an initial buzz, early indications are that product sales fell flat with many reports of how the curved screen hampered the reading experience. Of course, Apple is known to produce high-quality user-oriented experiences so this shouldn't be an issue. But more importantly, this signifies that Apple is no longer content with Samsung remaining unchallenged in both display size and form factor.
Touch it gently, or not
In what appears to be a underreported story, Apple appears to be working on establishing a "dual-sensor" technology that will allow a light tough to perform one function and a harder touch to perform another. Of course, this has been attempted before – but never perfected. However, Apple is always concerned with the end user experience and a functional dual-sensor screen is a clear innovation in the smartphone space.
What this means, however, is Apple hasn't lost its innovation edge. Of course, the gap isn't nearly as large as it was when the iPhone debuted, but it appears that the rumors of Apple's innovation demise are greatly exaggerated.
Final Foolish thoughts
Apple appears to have exciting plans going forward. Although concerns about growth persist, the company appears to be undervalued. In the event that any of these developments (or something not leaked to the media) becomes a "game changer," investors could experience a significant upside to the current price.