In what could be the largest initial production of iPhone devices to date, Apple is understood to have ordered up to 80m units of big-screen versions of the reportedly forthcoming and so-called iPhone 6 to be manufactured by year end.
The company has ordered two versions of the device, one with a 4.7-inch screen and the other with a 5.5-inch screen, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The move could be an indication that Apple intends to intensify competition with rivals such as Samsung, which has been making devices of this size for some time.
Analysts are indicating that consumers are moving increasingly in the direction of ‘phablet’ devices, half smartphone/half tablet computer, putting pressure on makers of original smartphone and tablet devices.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple is asking suppliers to manufacture between 70m and 80m units of the larger screen devices by 30 December.
This surpasses the 50m-60m units of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s ordered last year, the newspaper added.
Sapphires are forever
The larger screen new models are expected to come with metal cases, as well as in multiple colours.
However, production of the new devices will not be without significant challenges and the danger of higher failure rates for displays.
For example, producing 5.5-inch screens will be complicated by the use of in-cell technology which makes screens thinner and lighter by integrating touch sensors into the LCD rather than having a separate touch-screen layer.
It could also be complicated by the use of sapphire crystal, which is a more durable, albeit costlier, alternative to using glass.
Apple will be reporting its fiscal year 2014 third-quarter results at 10pm IST (2pm PDT/5pm EDT) today.
Analysts are forecasting Apple will report sales of around 36m iPhone units in the third quarter, up 15pc on last year.
iPhone image via Shutterstock