Reuters reported Tuesday that Apple suppliers will actually begin manufacturing the bigger screens for the new models as early as next month.
Apple shares were gaining 0.4% to $538.55 in early trading Tuesday.
Quoting unidentified sources, Reuters said Japan Display, Sharp and South Korea's LG Display (LPL) have all been chosen to produce touch-screen displays for the new model or models. None of the companies would comment on the report.
Apple is currently behind in the smartphone screen-size race. Apple founder Steve Jobs had insisted larger smartphones weren't necessary. Both current iPhones, the 5s and 5c, use 4-inch screens. Compare that to new Google (GOOG) Android and Microsoft (MSFT) Windows phones that have touchscreens measuring 4.5-inches and larger. Some popular models made by Samsung, LG, Nokia and others offer 6-inch displays.
Apple has reportedly ordered screen sizes of 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. Supply sources claimed the smaller display will begin production in the next few weeks while the manufacture of the larger, "phablet"-sized touchscreen could be delayed.
Both future models -- rumored to be called iPhone 6 -- are expected to continue using "in-cell touch panels" (just like the iPhone 5) which allows for thinner displays than other designs using standard touch panel technologies.
But according to a source familiar with the situation, difficulties in producing very large in-cell panels will force a delay in the manufacture of 5.5-inch screens. Reuters said the decision was made to begin making the smaller 4.7-inch displays at this point. Production on the 5.5-inch screen is expected to begin several months later with the possibility of switching to film-sensor technology instead of in-cell panels.
Japan Display will reportedly be the the first supplier to begin production, which is expected to start in early May. The other screen makers are expected to follow a month later.
The new iPhone models are expected to be released for sale later in the year, most likely sometime this fall.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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