The day's most popular Apple rumor is that, unnamed sources say, the company is considering two very big screen phones, one of which will get into phablet territory at 5.7 inches, which sounds like something Apple has said it would never do. Among more whisperings of a cheaper iPhone, the 5S and more color options coming out this September, Reuters has four people saying the design obsessed gadget maker is "looking into" a 4.7 and 5.7 inch iPhone. These unnamed insiders cite increased competition from Samsung, which makes all sorts of phone sizes and shapes without abandon hoping to grab every inch of the smartphone market. Sure, that makes sense, in theory. But the 4-inch iPhone 5 is about as big as the company will get — for now.
"The iPhone 5 offers, as you know, a new 4-inch retina display, which is the most advanced display in the industry," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question about "a phone with a larger screen" — ie. the phablet in question. "It also provides a larger screen size without sacrificing the one-handed ease of use that our customers love." Some Apple-philes find the Samsung Galaxy S IV, with its beautiful crisp screen, too big for one-handed use at 4.3 inches. Imagine how the fanboy masses would react to either of those bigger sizes. Decide for yourself, with that totally made up mock-up of a nearly 5-incher from Peter Zigich. Now imagine something nearly an inch bigger.
Of course, we can never say never with Apple rumors. The 4-inch iPhone — now known as the iPhone 5 — had circulated the rumor mill for a long time before it made the leap from Apple rumormonger dreams to legitimate product. That's how the iPhone hype cycle works, after-all. And, as Quartz's Christopher Mims argues, phablets are the future. But it's not happening anytime soon and definitely not this fall. But this particular rumor hasn't had enough time to marinate: No components have leaked and this is the first of major media organizations to mention such a device.
Then again, even the Reuters report seems to know how uncertain this is, using very hedged phrases like "is exploring," "under discussion," and "is looking at." Even the source admitted that these bigger phones might never exist in the real world. "They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you're not really sure whether this is the final prototype," said "a person with direct knowledge of the matter."