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Apple said making four-inch iPhone, farming chips to TSMC

updated 01:15 am EST, Tue February 15, 2011

Apple may fight Android with four-inch iPhone

Apple is looking at expanding the iPhone's screen size to four inches in what could be a battle with Android phones, component makers said Tuesday. Test production runs have reportedly gone to the larger screen area. The move as explained by Digitimes would help bridge the gap between the iPhone and the iPad.

The production schedule hasn't been outlined, but Apple usually starts making iPhones in earnest two to three months before they ship to stores, to build up stock.

Moving to four inches isn't certain for Apple. It has usually been hesitant to change the form factor of a device in a way that breaks compatibility with either accessories or apps, the former of which would be likely. The 960x640 resolution also wouldn't work as effectively on a four inch screen since it would be relatively wide, although not necessarily any bigger than a 4.3-inch phone using a narrower aspect ratio.

Pressure could still exist to move to the larger screen area to appeal to possible Android converts. Thanks largely to the Samsung Galaxy S, many high-end phones on Google's OS now use four-inch or larger screens. All of Verizon's new 4G Android devices, such as the HTC Thunderbolt, have four-inch or larger displays. Some are stretching the definitions of portable, such as the 4.5-inch Samsung Infuse 4G and the 4.8-inch Acer Iconia Smart.

Multiple rumors of a smaller, cheaper iPhone could be supported by a four-inch version, since it would more clearly separate the high- and low-end models.

Simultaneously, the company may be backing away from having Samsung manufacture iPhone and iPad chips. A second claim would instead have the A4 and future A5 made by TSMC, a Taiwan contractor best known for making NVIDIA graphics hardware. It had already been supplying A4s when Samsung couldn't handle demand, part builders said, and may have been used during the period to test its output volume.

The move would be meant to keep rivals from getting access to Apple's design secrets, which are more important now that it custom-designs part of the chip architecture. Samsung would be the most conspicuous concern, but it has respected others while smaller firms might be tempted to copy Apple technology being made at the same factories.

Although unconfirmed by any other source, the next iPad was said to be using just an upgraded A4 where the iPhone 5 would get a full dual-core, ARM Cortex-A9 based A5. Most have had the A5 or a chip like it shipping from the start.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. thebiggfrogg

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2007

    +17

    Well...

    that's two inches more than Testudo and Wrenchy (combined).

  1. landoncube

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2010

    +7

    Bigger is Better

    It seems odd that the iPhone would have more horsepower than the iPad...

  1. freddymac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010

    +1

    thebiggfrogg

    BRAVO

  1. normr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2002

    +2

    Who is going to want one of these things?

    Like people are going to use an iPhone the size of the previous generation nano? I personally don't want anything smaller than the current iPhone.

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +5

    well...

    now they want to "bridge the gap" between two of their product, but they don't give a damn about the huge gab between the iMac and the MacPro....

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -18

    Looks like


    Android is making Apple run amok.

    "Do we go smaller??"
    "Do we go bigger??"
    "Do we put a keyboard?"
    "Oh my God! What can we do to avoid getting slaughtered by the Little Green Robot??"

    Keep the crrappy designs coming Apple. You've already lost.



    Isn't competition GREAT??

  1. Doodpants

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +5

    Running amok?

    No, Apple rumor-mongers are running amok, as usual. We all know how often they're right...

    That said:
    "It has usually been hesitant to change the form factor of a device in a way that breaks compatibility with ... accessories"

    Since when? Every iPod Nano was a different shape than the previous one, the latest iPod Touch is thinner than the previous one, and even the Verizon iPhone 4 has slightly repositioned buttons compared to the AT&T iPhone 4, making the holes in some cases misaligned. Apple has *never* been particularly accommodating to accessory makers.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    +3

    It does appear Apple is responding to the market

    In my opinion that is not Apple's style, you can scream for years about how a low cost tower would be nice, how your old G4 Sawtooth is on its last legs, but Apple will ignore the fact that the PC world has low cost towers, and start their towers at $2499.

    They were clearly in niche mode with the Mac OS computers.

    But in the smartphone market, you have users that want a really small screen, some want a large screen, and Apple is apparently breaking away from its one-size fits-all strategy.

    Maybe they will add a keyboard, maybe we will get a 7" iPad. If the consumers want it, Apple is thinking about making it - I'm actually quite happy with this change.

    If Apple gets into prepaid, and making more models of phones - then the consumer has more choice, and they are solidifying their position against Android.

  1. ggirton

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +3

    papa bear

    with rumored news (news of rumors?) of a $200, smaller, streaming-only iPhone, a larger iPhone would be consistent with Apple's familiar "mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear" market positioning strategy. You are offered a range of choices, so that you are always choosing between Apple products.

    I'd expect to see a larger hand held device, not necessarily a phone although the larger size _could_ carry a longer-life battery, so that would be cool.

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003

    0

    No thanks.

    I like the iphone the size it is now.

    - A

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