Does a 4.94-inch iPhone Make Sense?

Rumors of a bigger-screen iPhone have been around since the iPhone 4 launched, or maybe earlier. But this year, Digitimes dropped some interesting information into the mix of iPhone rumors: Apple is working on a bigger-screen iPhone, with another Chinese source claiming this will be the “iPhone Math,” or the Apple “phablet.”

While I love the idea of a bigger touch screen on my iPhone, it took Apple five years to make the move and release a handset with a 4-inch display, which hints toward a slightly changed strategy, reinforced by the launch of the iPad mini.

As you know, there are months and years of testing behind the release of any new Apple device, keeping in mind the ecosystem the company has created.

Apple prepared the move to a 4-inch display by enabling automation, which guide developers toward seamless adoption, just like it did with the iPad mini. It adopted the same screen resolution as the original iPad.

Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, has published an interesting article about how a larger-screen iPhone Math (or more likely “iPhone Plus”) could fit seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem.

He believes the iPhone Math will sport a 4.94-inch screen with 640 × 1136 pixels; in other words, a 264 DPI screen, with a change to a better 16:9 aspect ratio.

Arment argues that with iPhone Math, Apple could bring fresh blood into the iPhone line and respond to market demand for larger-screened phones.

But what does the larger-screen phone market look like?

Let’s put it into numbers. Here are some sales statistics for Samsung Galaxy S devices, according to the most recent data available:

  • S I– 24 million units
  • S II and S III– 40 million units each
  • Note 2– 5 million units
  • Note I– 10 million units

In addition to the above numbers, roughly 400,000 Nexus 4 units sold as of January 14, 2013, according to publicly available numbers.

While the S III certainly shows a more rapid adoption than the S II, the market clearly isn’t ready for an iPhone “phablet” — at least not yet.

Remember: Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones in just 13 weeks. Just a comparison.

Image credit: Marco Arment

Written by Istvan Fekete; Edited by Mike Crook