Supply chain visit makes analyst 'confident' about larger iPhone in 2014

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Sources in Apple's supply chain have reportedly indicated that Apple is on track to release a new iPhone with a larger screen next year, according to one analyst.

Mockup of iPhone with 4.94-inch screen, created by Marco Arment.

Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald is on a tour of tech companies in China and Taiwan. Most recently, he visited with a tech supply chain vendor in China, who apparently indicated that a bigger iPhone is in the works.

"Given today's meeting, we are confident that a larger iPhone (approximately five inches) will become a reality in 2014," White said.

As screens on smartphones trend larger, Apple already increased the size of the iPhone display last year, when the iPhone 5 grew from the previous standard of 3.5 inches to a taller 4-inch screen.

White's comments align with those of well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who indicated last month that Apple is likely to launch a new, larger iPhone with a screen size between 4.5 and 5 inches next year. He noted that Apple is less likely to use anything larger than 5 inches due to the company's "unwavering principle of one-hand use."

Concept for a larger-screened iPhone, via iMore.

So-called big-screen "phablets" have become increasingly popular, with Samsung leading the way in terms of selection. The just-released Galaxy Note III features a 5.7-inch display, while the Galaxy Mega comes close to being a small tablet with a 6.3-inch screen.

White also discussed Apple's rumored "iWatch" on Thursday, and said he spoke with one supplier who suggested the wrist-worn device will be much more than an extension of the iPhone. This person reportedly indicated the device will act as a "multi-purpose gateway" for controlling a connected home.

The supply chain source suggested that a so-called "iWatch" could be used to control heating and cooling, lights, audio and video. An easily accessible device worn on the wrist would allow users to easily control household appliances, without the need to have their phone on them.

White expects that Apple will launch a smart watch accessory before the end of calendar year 2014.