Apple testing iPhones with screens as big as six inches

Apple is reportedly considering a plan to release iPhones with screen sizes varying from 4.8 to 6 inches

In a sign that Apple is slowly but surely recognizing that some consumers do, in fact, prefer larger screens, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is currently considering a plan whereby they would release iPhones "with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as 6 inches."

Such plans signal further that the Cupertino, Calif., company is shifting its smartphone strategy as it searches for new engines of growth, and as competition with Samsung ElectronicsCo. intensifies.

The Korean rival has taken a commanding lead in smartphone market share in part by offering an array of devices at different prices and sizes. On Wednesday, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 3 with a screen measuring 5.7 inches, a size that places the device in a category of hybrid phone-tablets.

It is unclear whether Apple will ultimately choose to follow a multi-size, multi-device strategy beyond shipping a new lower-cost model for the first time later this month. The company often tests different devices and configurations before choosing a course.

But people familiar with the company's internal deliberations and plans indicate it appears more willing to move ahead than in years past. Component suppliers say Apple already began testing larger screens for iPhones in recent months. Apple has been particularly interested in recent tests for a 4.8-inch screen, these people say.

While Apple has even taking out advertisements decrying larger screened smartphones as being hard to hold, sometimes you have to listen to the marketplace. And while larger screened iPhones may not be for everyone, the ongoing, and admittedly surprising, success of the Galaxy Note serves to indicate that many people do prefer larger screened devices.

Besides, we've seen with Apple's iPad/iPad Mini lineup that there is something to be said for offering more of a variety.

Apple first increased the size of the iPhone display last year when it released the iPhone 5. With Apple's special media event scheduled for next week, the company is expected to unveil two brand new iPhone models - an iPhone 5S and a lower cost iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5S will by all accounts sport the same exact form factor as the iPhone 5. The major improvements, according to the rumor mill, will include a fingerprint authorization sensor, an enhanced 12 megapixel camera, iOS 7, upgraded internals, and a special video feature that would allow users to record video in slow motion.

Lastly, it's believed that the low cost iPhone - the 5C - will be offered in a wide array of colors.

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