Report: Apple Plans Larger Phones, No Plastic Exteriors

Apple plans to launch two larger iPhones this year and probably will avoid using the plastic exterior design of last year's 5c model, which has not sold as well as expected, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Apple is developing an iPhone with a display larger than 4.5 inches diagonally and a second version with a screen bigger than 5 inches, the newspaper said.

Both new models are expected to feature metal casings similar to what is used on the current iPhone 5s. Apple is expected to scrap the plastic exterior used on the iPhone 5c, the Journal added, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

The phones are expected in the second half of 2014. The smaller of the two models is being prepared for mass production, while the larger-screen version is still in development, the WSJ reported. Apple spokeswoman Teresa Brewer declined to comment.

So far, Apple's largest phone has sported a 4-inch display. However, Samsung and other rivals have made bigger phones, including so-called phablets, that have sold well, particularly in Asia, a region where Apple is searching for growth.

"It's a product category that's been missing from Apple, so this is good to see," says Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities.

Apple has been dogged by concern about thinning profit margins and slowing growth as a wave of cheaper smartphones gained market share in recent years.

Apple tried to tackle those concerns last year with the iPhone 5c -- a slightly cheaper version of its smartphone, with a colorful plastic case. But the 5c was still not cheap enough for developing markets such as Asia, while most consumers in the USA snapped up the high-end iPhone 5s.

"The notion that Apple may not use plastic casing for the new larger phones is not a surprise," Gauna says. "The 5c has been a disappointment...

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