Sources inside Apple’s Chinese supplier Foxconn have said that a new iPhone will have a four inch – or larger – screen.
Several samples of the device are already under test, says the ‘reliable’ source, speaking to Apple blog 9to5Mac.
The rumour would lend credibility to the idea that Apple is plotting a summer launch for its new handset.
If the company is at the prototype stage already, launch could be very soon.
The final model has not been selected, but all of them are significantly different from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
None have the ‘teardrop’ shape that some Apple-watchers predicted for the new model.
‘The source said various sample devices are also floating around – they vary slightly from one another – so it is impossible to tell which one will be the final,’ said 9to5Mac.
The four-inch screen has been one of the most persistent rumours about Apple’s upcoming smartphone – and would make sense, as it would take Apple’s flagship device into line with rivals such as Samsung’s Galaxy S2.
The relatively modest update last year from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S means that most Apple-watchers agree that a new model is inevitable – and many point to this summer for a likely launch date.
Sources inside Apple accessory companies also say that iPad 3 will not be an overhaul of the product, with cases and other accessories at the same size as ones for iPad 2.
That would leave the stage clear for a ‘big’ overhaul of iPhone this summer.
At an earnings call this week, chief executive Tim Cook, who replaced Apple founder Steve Jobs hinted at future gadgets, which are rumoured to include a March release of the iPad 3 and a possible iPhone update.
He said:’Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline.’
And the group reported record quarterly revenues of $46.33billion (£29.7 billion), up from $26.74billion (£17.1 billion) a year earlier.
The stellar results sent the shares 6 per cent or $27 higher to almost $448 today.
The company has avoided any damage from a clampdown in consumer spending and a surge in competition from smartphone manufacturers and new tablet computers, such as the November launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire.