If numerous accounts hold, factories in Asia are beginning to hum, and Apple is readying itself for the fall introduction of two iPhone 6 smartphones, one with a 4.7-inch display and another with a 5.5-inch display.
GforGames claims to have gotten its hands on photos sent from someone at Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn.
The site reports that Apple has been faced with the question of whether to make the phone’s chassis a super-thin 7mm (compared with the 7.66mm of the iPhone 5S) and let the camera lens protrude from the back, or to make the phone less thin and incorporate the lens. According to the photos, says the report, Apple is opting for the former, or at least trying it out.
“Both the live pics and the phone’s sketch are indicating that Apple is at least testing a model with a protruding camera,” says the site, showing an on-screen image of a steel-gray iPhone.
One of the blurry sketches shows what’s presumably a side and bottom of one of the phones, but neither resembles those on the iPhone 5S. While the latter has 26 little speaker holes, the sketch shows what seems to be an iPhone 6 with just six much larger holes in a single row and a device body that’s little-wider than the earphone jack.
Reuters also added to the Apple rumors April 1, reporting that Apple suppliers will begin mass producing the two new larger displays as soon as May for a launch this fall.
It added that Japan Display, Sharp and LG Display have all been selected to make the screens, according to sources. Japan Display will be the first to begin production, with the others following around June.
The Nikkei news agency in Japan has likewise reported that Japan Display’s Mobara plant will begin production of the Apple liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in the April-to-June quarter.
Apple has also invested in a sapphire-glass factory in Mesa, Ariz., and it’s rumored that the glass produced there may be for the face of its anticipated (but also unconfirmed) iWatch.
iPhones with larger displays could help Apple regain some of the market share it has lost to rival Samsung—the company whose generous displays have fed a global appetite for screen real estate, grown Samsung’s global market share and popularized the “phablet.”
In the second quarter of 2013, phablets—phones nudging into tablet territory, with displays between 5 and 7 inches—overtook sales of tablets and portable PCs, according to IDC.
The research firm has said it expects that phablets are “more than just a short blip of a fad,” but that new categories, such as smartwatches, will arrive and it “expects continued diversity among smart connected devices.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been silent on whether Apple fans can expect a new product category.
However, during Apple’s earnings call Jan. 27, Cook told analysts, “We’re working on things that are things that you see that we’re shipping today, and we’re working on things that you can’t see today.”