Apple Prepping 4-Inch Display for iPhone 5?

Forget white iPhone 4 rumors and speculation about a smaller, entry-level "nano iPhone," today the buzz is all about the iPhone 5, which is expected to sport a 4-inch screen, according to leaks from parts makers abroad.

With so many super-smartphones and mini-tablet PCs entering the mobile market over the past year, the lines are blurring between what is categorized as a handset and what is considered a slate-style mobile computer.

Many of the smartphones running the mobile OS Android, backed by the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), such as the Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy S have 4-inch screens, and some vendors, such as Sharp and Dell, are now prepping mobile devices with 5-inch displays that are either marketed as compact tablets or smartphones with huge screens. For example, Dell's 5-inch Streak straddles this line.

If reports are true, it appears Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) wants to be sure to get a bit of the action in this murky 4- to 7-inch mobile device space. Apple also likely wants to keep the Android OS in its rearview mirror, as the number of Android smartphones being sold continues to grow at a rapid clip.

"Apple reportedly will change the screen size of iPhone to 4-inch for its fifth generation iPhone to compete with the Google Android platform in the 4- to 7-inch smartphone market, according to upstream component suppliers. The component suppliers noted that the production lines for Apple's next generation iPhone have begun testing, and Apple is interesting in expanding the screen size to 4-inches to support the tablet PC market as the vendor only has a 9.7-inch iPad in the market," according to a report on the iPhone 5 by the Taiwan-based site DigiTimes.

In other unconfirmed iPhone development news, Apple may be testing out three prototypes for the iPhone 5, one of which has a slideout keyboard, according to AppleInsider's report citing a translation of a Taiwanese Web site.

"The site's source claimed that Apple has built three prototype models for its anticipated 'iPhone 5,' and one of them has a 'sliding cover' that conceals a keyboard. Another prototype reportedly built by Apple looks largely like the iPhone 4, but has improved hardware including longer battery life and a superior camera. That version of the handset would not be a major physical change from the previous-generation iPhone 4, and would be akin to the iPhone 3GS replacing the iPhone 3G, the report said," writes Neil Hughes at AppleInsider.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment.

Michelle Megna is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. She is also managing editor of EnterpriseMobileToday.com.


Android, mobile, iPhone, Apple, smartphone