Apple Reportedly Testing Bigger iPhone And iPad Screens, Starting Production On New 9.7″ iPad

Apple is reportedly testing out bigger iPhone and iPad screen designs, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. The Mac maker has been asking its supplier partners for prototype screens in sizes in excess of four inches, and also just shy of 12-inches, which would make the resulting devices both larger than the current 4-inch display-toting iPhone 5, or the 9.7-inch full-sized iPad.

While looking into big displays for a possible phablet iPhone or massive iPad, the company is also set to begin production on a new iPad later this month, according to the WSJ’s sources. This new version of the iPad would have a lighter and thinner display, but primarily resemble the current, fourth generation iPad in terms of size and appearance. In addition to new iPad production, suppliers are also at work on new iPhone components, which entered mass production last month, per the report.

Apple’s tests with larger displays are not entirely new; reports from Reuters back in June suggested that Apple was looking at phones in 4.7- and 5.7-inch flavors. This is a sensible course given that many of Apple’s competitors use their larger displays on flagship devices as a way to purport to hold an advantage over the iPhone. The large screened iPad is a bit more unusual, but it could be the perfect way to address business and education users. Apple has already introduced a pricy, 128GB version of its larger iPad which fits that niche but few others, so another speciality device could be on the way.

Apple seeking test prototypes from suppliers for these larger sizes also doesn’t mean anything will make it to market; what Apple tests internally definitely doesn’t equal what it eventually ships, and plenty of products kick around the R&D center and never see the light of day. But it seems to have given a lot more thought to a larger iPhone device, at least per these recent leaks. Rival Samsung has played the big screen phone game to its benefit with the Galaxy line of devices, and that can’t have escaped Apple’s attention.

Both the next iPad and the next iPhone will keep their current screen sizes, according to the WSJ and other rumor sources, so don’t expect these immediately. But the fact that Apple is playing with its options at least brings up the possibility that we could see big changes around the corner.