It is almost confirmed that Apple is working on a large-screen iOS smartphone that analysts calls as the iPhone 6 and its likely release date is anytime between January and March in 2014.
Yet no official word is given by the tech giant even as Apple CEO Tim Cook remains coy on the possibility that the next iPhone after the iPhone 5S will sport the giant phone screen that persistent rumours have been harping about. It is tipped to exceed the company's current panel standard of 4-inch display.
As details about the handset is deliberately suppressed, Apple watchers have no choice but to rely on solid signs that point to its inevitable rollout early next year or just six months after the reported iPhone 5S release date on Sept 20.
Below are the indicators that seem to pave the way for Apple to collide head-on with Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Note 3:
The global phablet rage has become too attractive for Apple to resist
The 2013 smartphone norm is no doubt focused on CPU power, longer operating hours and stretched screen size. These three specs and features seem to offer the best success formula for any given mobile phone brand that device manufacturers centre their production and release calendars on these concerns.
Apple executive may deny it was clear as daylight that the Samsung Galaxy S4 outsold the iPhone 5 largely on these accounts. Consumers across the globe seemed to have ignored the vaunted iOS experience and opted to try out the new Samsung smartphone experience - headlined by its muscle processing chips and a 5-inch screen that effectively serves as the window to the world.
Apple is aware that gadget shoppers are fast adjusting to and demanding big-screen mobile phone and the company's only answer is the iPhone 6.
The phablet juggernaut is exploding
Is the phablet phenomenon developing into a real market force? According to IDC, this is now an established reality and if the current trend is sustained, not only that the small-screen phones will be annihilated but also the compact tablets. In short, the global research firm is predicting the likely demise of two device market segments due mostly to the Galaxy Note that Samsung had introduced in 2011, CNET said in a report.
In Q2 2013, some 25 million phablets were shipped out in Asia Pacific, IDC said, and about 50 per cent of them bear the Galaxy Note brand. The numbers easily outpaced the small tablet and conventional PC shipments in the same period, which registered 12.6 and 12.7 million units respectively.
It was also pointed out that the real numbers of phablets that consumers have grabbed within the same timeframe are nearing the levels of regular smartphone sales, clearly spelling out for Apple that delaying the iPhone beyond Q1 2014 is tantamount to ceding more smartphone territories to Samsung.
The race to China
And speaking of raising the flag on new market turfs, Apple is fully-aware that China will define the whole ball game this year and the years to come, with the country hosting some 700 million potential iPhone or Galaxy buyers.
According to recent reports, Mr Cook is actively courting Chinese telcos, with China Mobile as the frontliner, for deals that would allow Apple to deliver millions of iPhones to Chinese consumers. It was suggested too that Apple would lure its new Asian customers via the plastic-wrapped and more affordable iPhone 5C.
However, the phablet-virus has already reached the sprawling China, which is evident in the recent gadget lineups announced by Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and other local players. If indeed Apple is serious in gaining a solid Chinese beachhead, then it must unleash its own phablet to the country real quick.
On its release date early next year, the iPhone 6 is rumoured to boast of a screen size that ranges between 4.5-inch to 5-inch, an A8 processing chip and an enhanced Retina panel on its wrap-around screen with load of killer features courtesy of the revamped iOS 7.
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