The Washington Post

Should Apple drastically change the iPhone?

Rumors about the next iPhone are running wild now that Apple’s big developers conference keynote is on the books.

Apple recently announced major design changes to its software for a cleaner, more modern look for its mobile operating system, iOS. But now chatter’s growing about the possibility of a hardware redesign, too.

A report from Reuters indicates that Apple is thinking about releasing an iPhone with a larger screen in the 4.7-inch or even 5.7-inch range that would put the iPhone more in line with the bigger screens competitors are offering. The report also says that Apple may experiment with more colors for the iPhone and perhaps a cheaper model.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has acknowledged that larger screens are finding an audience — and Apple itself bumped up the size of the iPhone screen to 4 inches from 3.5 inches with the iPhone 5 — but Apple fans may still want to take these reports with a grain of salt.

Following the launch of the iPhone 5, Cook said in an earnings call that he believed the iPhone 5’s screen gave users the right experience, by giving more screen real estate without sacrificing the ability to use the phone with one hand.

“We put a lot of thought into screen sizes, and we think we picked the right one,” Cook told call participants.

Since then, Cook has said that a larger screen size could be a differentiation point but that right now it seems to come with too many trade-offs. In comments at the All Things Digital conference last month, Cook said that Apple consumers want the company to weigh and make the compromises required for battery life, display quality and other aspects for a bigger screen.

“At this point, we felt that the Retina display that we’re shipping is overwhelmingly the best,” Cook said.

A major hardware design in addition to the software changes from iOS 7 would make for a drastically redesigned iPhone — and it’s not clear how well that would sit with consumers.

The new iOS design has gotten mixed reactions. Some say the flatter graphics, brighter colors and thinner text introduced by Apple designer Jony Ive are elegant. Others find the general design downright garish. One designer, Sasha Agapov, has already set up witty if occasionally eye-searing Tumblr posting parodies of the bolder colors with “deepest love, respect and regret to Apple” called “Jony Ive Redesigns Things.”

Related stories:

WWDC 2013: OSX Mavericks is Apple’s newest Mac operating system

AP: Apple exec Eddy Cue denies allegations of price-fixing at NY e-books trial

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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