Apple iPhones, iPads With Larger Screens in Testing: WSJ

The report comes as the iPhone 5S—the upcoming refresh of the handset--is expected to hit store shelves later this year.

Consumer electronics giant Apple—the company behind the popular iPhone and iPad devices and that is facing competition from companies like Samsung, Sony and HTC and their smartphones and tablets with larger screens—is reportedly working on versions of the iPhone and iPad with larger screen sizes, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Quoting unnamed officials at Apple's suppliers, the article said the company asked the suppliers to provide a prototype iPhone boasting a larger screen than the current 4-inch display found on the fifth edition of the device, as well as an iPad tablet with a diagonal screen size of just under 13 inches, a sizable boost from the 9.7-inch screen found on the full-size iPad.

"In the long run, we will see touch screens in all sizes as the future vision of the technology industry is to offer the same user experience across all screens," IDC analyst Helen Chiang told the paper. "The key is to bring down the cost and compelling applications for large-screen devices."

The report comes as the iPhone 5S—the upcoming refresh of the handset—is expected to hit store shelves later this year. Exactly when, however, is unknown. Some reports have suggested that the device will ship this summer since the handset will come with the same basic design as its predecessor, the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S is expected to feature an upgrade to an A7 system-on-a-chip, a fingerprint sensor and camera improvements, such as an f2.0 aperture and a smart LED flash.

In addition, Apple could be considering launching a redesigned version of the iPhone, known as the "iPhone Mini." The rumors began just a few months after Apple launched the iPad Mini to appeal to customers looking for a more compact tablet that costs less than the full-size model.

According to a June report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will introduce two new iPhones this summer, one of which is likely to be a less-expensive model. A month ahead of Kuo's report, Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley likewise said his firm believes Apple is working on a refresh of the iPhone 5 and a more midtier device it would introduce alongside it. The midtier device, he said, would be geared toward international prepaid markets.

The tablet and smartphone markets are facing some challenges as these devices gain longer life cycles, according to a June report from IT research firm Gartner. There has also been a shift as many consumers go from premium tablets to basic tablets. The share of basic tablets is expected to increase faster than anticipated, as sales of the iPad Mini already represented 60 percent of overall iOS tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013.