Thursday, June 07, 2012

Supply chain sources point to iPhone 5 with 4.07-inch screen

Still more rumors point to an iPhone 5 with a larger screen, with the latest coming from KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo. Kuo's sources inside Apple's supply chain indicate Apple will be moving to a 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The idea of a 4-inch iPhone 5 is one that's been bandied about since last year. Recently, however, rumors have surfaced again, and gained credence with both Reuters and WSJ reports.

Kuo's information says that the iPhone 5 will ship with a 4.08-inch diagonal "in-cell IPS panel screen with a display resolution of 1,136 x 640 and 500-nit brightness,” at an aspect ratio of 16:9.

We seem to be reaching some sort of agreement on size, aspect ratio, and resolution. The key words there are "some sort." For example, a recent rumor said the iPhone 5 would have a 4.07-inch screen (why quibble over 0.01 inches). That rumor didn't say anything about the screen's resolution, but an earlier one did: 1,136 x 640. However, that earlier rumor said the iPhone 5 would have a 3.999-inch screen, so we don't have complete agreement.

One thing is clear: a 4.07-inch screen with a 1,136 x 640 resolution is "only" 320ppi, which is a drop from the iPhone 4S' retina display, which sports 326ppi. Obviously, this is a small drop, but if true, it shows that Apple is making some concessions to keep up with Android's larger screen sizes.

Kuo described how Apple would solve the problem of legacy apps being displayed on the iPhone 5's new aspect ratio. In landscape mode they would be "pillar-boxed," and in portrait mode they would be "letter-boxed." This same methodology was theorized before, by others.

While adding fuel to the fire in terms of a larger screen for the iPhone 5, Kuo at the same time discounted the earlier leaked images of iPhone 5 cases that seems to show ports for microUSB ports. The dock connector rumor is another strong one that has been floating around during this "rumor season," one that always exists between iPhone releases. The idea is that a new, smaller dock connector would allow Apple to save space, instead using it for internal components.

While the most noticed part of Kuo's research note will be a larger screen size for the iPhone 5, the "in-cell IPS panel" is notable, as well. The use of an in-cell panel would allow the panel array to be thinner, and was rumored previously.

With all the rumors of a larger screen for the iPhone 5, we are convinced that we will see a 4-inch or slightly larger iPhone screen later this year, probably around October. We also believe the 16:9 aspect ratio is a done deal as well. The exact size and resolution remain to be seen.

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