People love iPhone rumors almost as much as they love the iPhone, and one of the most persistent topics of speculation is whether Apple will finally move past the familiar, 5-year-old, 3.7-inch touchscreen .
Average screen sizes have grown in the time since Apple CEO Steve Jobs first changed the smartphone world by introducing us to the original iPhone. Samsung's Galaxy devices in particular are known for screens bigger than 4 inches and the South Korean manufacturer's Galaxy Note -- half tablet and half smartphone -- has a whopping 5.3-inch screen. So some might say Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is due for an upgrade.
A Teaser from Apple
The latest rumor comes courtesy of an Apple recruiting video in which, the Los Angeles Times noticed, a small pop-up points out a diagram on the wall inside the tech giant's headquarters for a "New, bigger iPhone!" The diagram, seen from far away, seems to show a longer device than the current iPhone seen in an adjacent diagram.
So this could either be a teaser from Apple or simply an acknowledgment from the company that a bigger prototype is a project new employees may get to work on.
Rumored larger iPhones have failed to appear before. In March 2011, Taiwan-based DigiTimes, which covers the component market, cited "upstream component suppliers" in reporting that the next iPhone would have a 4-inch touchscreen.
"The component suppliers noted that the production lines for Apple's next-generation iPhone have begun testing, and Apple is interested in expanding the screen size to four inches to support the tablet PC market, as the vendor only has a 9.7-inch iPad in the market," DigiTimes said.
Of course, last year's iPhone 4S and this year's new iPad remained the same size.
But this seems to be the first indication from Apple itself that the iPhone will grow. After all, how long can the iPhone -- currently the world's single most popular smartphone -- stand up to competitors with multi-core processors, larger screens and LTE data speed without offering something more than a virtual personal assistant (however popular Siri may be)?
"That is the rumor we are working from, that the screens for the iPhone will grow to address the fact they are increasingly being ranked behind the larger phones and there will be an additional iPad with a smaller screen to compete with the Kindle Fire and Samsung products in that class," said technology consultant Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.
But another analyst, Kirk D. Parsons of J.D. Power and Associates, says a bigger iPhone may be in the pipeline for next year, not the expected fall release of the new iPhone, likely called iPhone 5.
"They have yet to change the size of the iPhone since its inception in 2007," said Parsons. "However, the trend is moving to bigger screen size in cell devices, including feature phones. So in their next device release in 2013 you may see a version that has a larger screen.