Welcome to our bigger iPhone release date, rumours and leaked images article. Here, we'll be bringing you all of the latest speculation about Apple's rumoured bigger iPhone, dubbed iPhablet, iPhone 5L or iPhone Plus. We'll let you know as soon as we hear more about the bigger iPhone release date, and we'll bring you all of the juiciest spec rumours that are flying around the web too. Finally, we've got some bigger iPhone images that we'd like to show you.
A bigger iPhone has been hot topic for a while now, especially as bigger smartphones with larger screen sizes such as Samsung's Galaxy S4, and the 6.3in Galaxy Mega, have grown in popularity. Plus, new 'phablet' devices, which fall half way between the smartphone and tablet categories by providing the functionality of a phone in a device closer to the size of a tablet, have begun to hit the spotlight. Samsung's Galaxy Note is an example of such device.
So the question on everyone's minds at the moment is: "Will Apple launch an iPhone with a bigger screen or a phablet device?"
We won't know for sure until we hear from Apple itself, but for now, we can speculate over the answer to that question by taking a look at the evidence and weighing up the likelihood.
What Apple has said about the bigger iPhone
Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn't ruled out the possibility of a bigger iPhone. In April, during Apple's quarterly earnings call, Cook said: "My view continues to be that the iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry. We always strive to create the very best display for our customers."
"Some customers value large screen size, others value also other factors, such as resolution, colour quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility apps, many things," he continued.
"Our competitors have made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display," Cook said. "We would not shop a larger-display iPhone while these trade-offs exist."
During the D11 conference in May, Cook repeated his thoughts about the bigger iPhone. "A large screen today comes with a lot of trade-offs," he said. "Customers are clearly looking at the size, but they also look at things like: 'Do the photos show the proper colour?' the white balance, the reflectivity, battery life, brightness, the longevity of the display. There are a whole bunch of things that are very important."
So, Apple could be hard at work trying to banish those trade-offs in order to be able to launch a top-quality iPhone with a bigger display in the future.
However, American businessman Donald Trump believes that Apple is losing business due to the size of the iPhone's screen.
On his Facebook page in April, Trump wrote: "Tim Cook must immediately increase the size of the screen on the iPhone. It should be slightly larger than the Samsung screen – and they better get it right fast because they will lose a lot of business. I like the larger screen."
In addition, Barclays Capital's Ben Reitzes has said that Apple needs to launch an 'iPhablet' because he expects the larger phone market to dominate smartphone shipment growth into 2015.
When Apple launched the iPhone 5 with a bigger display, Apple explained that the reason for increasing only the iPhone's height and giving the iPhone a 4in display was to ensure that it could be used with one hand. Reitzes says that the one-handed use of the iPhone 5 will be "less important since phone calls are coming less important than navigation, texting, videos, books and web access for many."
In April, though, Flurry Analytics published a report that suggests phablets are a 'fad,' and that mid-sized phones like Apple's iPhone see most usage in the smartphone market.
Bigger iPhone release date
Most reports predict a 2014 launch for an Apple phablet.
In January, Digitimes cited "industry sources" who say that Apple won't be launching a bigger iPhone until 2014.
There was some speculation that the bigger iPhone would launch at Apple's 10 September event, but it's now believed that we'll see an iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launch at that event, alongside some software and Mac updates. You can join us for our live feed of the 10 September Apple event, which will kick off on Tuesday at 6pm BST.
Bigger iPhone rumours
In April, Cook said that Apple is working on "amazing" new products in "exciting new product categories," sparking speculation that a 'phablet' could be on the cards.
Bigger iPhone display size
Some of the earlier rumours of a bigger iPhone suggested that it would be called 'iPhone Math,' but we soon decided that this must be a mistranslation of iPhone Plus. Those reports, however, said that the bigger iPhone could feature a 4.8in screen and an 8-megapixel camera.
In December last year, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said that there were is an iPhone prototype with a 4.8in screen "floating around," and that this prototype has a Retina+ IGZO screen, a new A7 quad-core processor variant and a new form factor with no home button.
Since then, we've seen several reports that Apple's bigger iPhone will have a 4.8in display. Citi Research's Glen Yeung has said that an iPhone launching in the first quarter of 2014 could have a 4.8in screen.
In June, Reuters reported that sources at Apple have claimed the company is developing two new iPhones with larger screen sizes for release in 2014.
These screens will be 5.7in and 4.7in, although the source claims that Apple can't make its mind up. "They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you're not really sure whether this is the final prototype," the source told Reuters.
More recent reports, which emerged in September 2013, suggest Apple is testing various sizes of iPhone display before settling on the final size. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's testing iPhones with displays between 4.8in and 6in. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn't expect Apple to choose a display size bigger than 5in due to the importance of one-handed use for the company.
Bigger iPhone will have NFC
Reitzes expects that the bigger iPhone will feature near field communication (NFC), which could be used to enable faster mobile payments and more. However, the introduction of AirDrop in iOS 7 suggests that Apple may be trying to avoid NFC in future devices.
Bigger iPhone leaked images
We don't currently have any photographs of leaked iPhone Plus components (we'll update this story as soon as we do), but we do have some mock-ups to illustrate what a bigger iPhone could look like.
In January, Russian website Apple Digger created 3D renderings of the iPhone Plus, as shown below.
The following month, 3D designer Peter Zigich published concept images of the rumoured iPhone 6, iPhone mini and iPhone Plus side-by-side with Apple's current iPhone 5.