Apple Suppliers Gear Up for Large Screen iPhones

By Joe Rizzo July 23, 2014

I think that it is always interesting to see how the concept of what people want, or at least, what they think they want, changes from one extreme to another. This is something that is not isolated to one area or industry. At one point, people want something with a lot of options. More options means that it is a better product giving you more control, that is until the plethora of options becomes so great that people decide that simple, meaning less options is better and easier to use.

Never have I seen such an ebb and flow as with cell phones and smartphones. Back in the mid-1990s, the goal was to get the cell phone into as small a package as possible. I once knew someone who had a Motorola flip phone that was literally the size of a small matchbox. Of course, back then the only thing that the screen displayed was the incoming phone number and on a device that small, a three line display made it easier to read the number.

As you can see, things have changed since then. Cell phones got more options and functionality and developed into smartphones. We still wanted the devices to be small, but at the same time, we wanted to see as much displayed on the screen as possible. This, in turn, led to touch screen phones without a keypad, affording you more real estate on the face of your smartphone.

Now we are at the point where mobile commerce is really taking off, and people are using their smartphones for everything, from making a phone call and using social media, to ordering and paying for almost everything on the go. This has caused the pendulum to swing back in the other direction which is where larger screens and displays are located.

Samsung figured this out a few years ago and began to make smartphones that fell somewhere between the four inch display of a phone to the seven or eight inch display of a tablet, and thus a new word entered into our vocabulary, “phablet.” This is a smartphone is has a screen size of somewhere between 5.01 and 6.9 inches.

To describe the other end, just last night a saw someone that I was playing pool with take out what I thought was a large wallet from his pocket, that is, until I saw him open the leather case to reveal what looked like about a six inch smartphone. He checked his messages and put the large device back in his pocket.

After making the iPhone 5S thinner than all previous models with a four inch display, Apple is now preparing to go in the other direction. An article in the Wall Street Journal states that Apple is asking its suppliers to manufacture a combination of between 70 and 80 million units of two large screen iPhones. We have been hearing about the iPhone 6 for a little while now and it seems that the two new models will have a 4.7 inch and a 5.5 inch display.

Apple seems to be putting a lot of stock in the new larger display of the iPhone 6. Last year, the company ordered between 50 and 60 million version of the iPhone 5S and 5C, this year it is asking suppliers for about a 40 percent increase in that number. The forecast is that Apple will report sales of about 35.9 million iPhone units for the three months ended June 30. That would represent an increase of about 15 percent from the previous year.

According to the WSJ, a source that is familiar with the larger display device, display makers for the new iPhones are struggling to improve the production of the larger 5.5-inch screens. It seems that the production is a more complicated process because the displays are using in-cell technology. This process allows the screens to be thinner and lighter by integrating touch sensors into the liquid crystal display, eliminating the necessity to have a separate touch-screen layer.

One of the reasons that may account for Apple increasing the number of units ordered is the fact that earlier this year, Apple signed an agreement with China Mobile to sell its devices in China. Since China Mobile is considered to be the world’s largest carrier, and has been selling more than a fair share of iPhones, we can see why Apple is moving ahead with confidence.

This confidence from Apple has also been good for business in China. The two companies that assemble the devices, Pegatron and Foxconn are, at this time, on a hiring spree In fact, Foxconn is hiring hundreds of workers on a daily basis in an effort to staff its production lines. Pegatron and Foxconn plan to start mass producing the 4.7 inch iPhone model next month and Foxconn will begin making the 5.5-inch version exclusively in September. 

Edited by Adam Brandt

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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