Skip to main content

Is bigger really better for Apple?

Doug Gross, CNN
A report says the next iPad will have a 12.9-inch screen, much bigger than the current iPad's 9.7.
A report says the next iPad will have a 12.9-inch screen, much bigger than the current iPad's 9.7.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A report says the next iPad will have a 12.9-inch display
  • That's up from 9.7 inches, and follows news of bigger iPhones
  • Analyst says bigger screens go along with how we use phones
  • If phones become "phablets," tablets need to get bigger, too

(CNN) -- After ceding the smartphone and tablet size war to competitors like Samsung for the past few years, it appears Apple had finally decided that bigger is better.

The next iPad will be Apple's biggest ever, with a whopping 12.9-inch display screen, according to a report Tuesday from Bloomberg.

That would be a huge leap from the current 9.7-inch iPad Air screen. And the report comes as Apple prepares to release not one, but two, new, bigger iPhones.

Multiple reports have said the company plans to announce iPhones with displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches. That's compared to the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5S, and would put them more in line with their chief rival, Samsung, which has put a dent in the iPhone's dominance with devices in their Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines.

So, what's with the super-sizing out of Cupertino?

J.P. Gowndner, an analyst with Forrester Research, says bigger smartphones are a natural response to the way people have begun to use them.

Report: Coming soon, bigger iPhones
Apple, Samsung end global patent dispute
Exec calls Dr. Dre during Apple WWDC
Do you want to wear your phone?
See Apple's new spaceship campus

"As our digital lives become deeper, we're spending a lot less time speaking on phones and more time using smartphones as tools -- for communications, yes, but for paying our bills, finding the nearest ATM, looking up sports scores, taking photos, navigating around town, and other activities," he said.

"With more digital activity and less minutes spent on voice calls, it's only natural that phones should grow larger."

In recent years, Apple has watched as competitors managed to chip away at its smartphone dominance by offering an array of products at different prices and sizes while Apple stuck with a single flagship phone. Last year's iPhone 5S and 5C marked the first time Apple offered more than one new version of its phone.

Both have 4-inch screens. Meanwhile, Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-inch display and the company's Galaxy Note III has a whopping 5.7-inch screen.

As phones grow, Gowndner said, it only makes sense for tablets to do the same.

"Seven- or 8-inch tablets are popular today, but if I have a 5- or 6-inch phone, I wouldn't want one," he said. "Instead, larger screen sizes wedded with ever thinner, ever lighter materials means that I could have a 12.9-inch tablet that weighs no more than a 10-inch tablet used to weigh -- making it quite portable."

In addition to differentiating itself from the growing field of hybrid "phablets," a bigger iPad screen could be a step toward the goal of making tablets more than just consumption and recreational devices.

Analysts say they can see design, manufacturing, education as just a few areas in which a bigger display would be useful.

But is bigger really better? Some in the mobile world have argued against that. Among them: Apple.

"You can hold it in one hand," Apple marketing vice president Phil Schiller said when introducing the 7.9-inch iPad Mini in 2012.

Founder Steve Jobs was adamant until the end that a 3.5-inch screen was the perfect size for a smartphone screen.

"You can't get your hand around it," Jobs said in 2010, as rivals running Google's Android operating system began rolling out bigger phones. "No one's going to buy that."

According to a 2013 study by mobile designer and author Steven Hoober, 59% of smartphone users operate their device with one hand, perhaps lending some credence to Jobs' argument.

"As with the iPad Mini -- which Steve Jobs said was a bad idea before he passed away -- a larger iPad would be a departure for Apple," Gowndner said. "But it's a welcomed one: Market segmentation is important, and there are buyers who would benefit from a larger device.

"Tim Cook will continue to put his own imprint on Apple, and we'll see if the bets he makes succeed."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Apple
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
apple
Here's a look at what you need to know about Apple, Inc.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
After the unveiling of two new iPhones and a heavily anticipated smartwatch, Apple gave guests some supervised hands-on time with the gadgets. Here are our first impressions of the Apple Watch.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
Apple Unveils iPhone 6
The days of Apple just making your favorite gadgets are over. The company is about to enter the payments services arena taking on PayPal, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others.
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
As the Macintosh computer reaches its 30th anniversary, look back at some of the advancements Apple has made since then.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1520 GMT (2320 HKT)
At this point, there's a good chance you've seen pictures of Apple's proposed new headquarters — a 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
After ceding the smartphone and tablet size war to competitors like Samsung for the past few years, it appears Apple has finally decided that bigger is better.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1546 GMT (2346 HKT)
At the WWDC 2014 developers conference Apple announced new operating systems for desktop and mobile.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
A report claims the new iPhones will boast bigger screen sizes, among other features. Laurie Segall has the details.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Apple might be readying its largest iPhones ever. It could mean one unequivocally crappy thing for all of us: The extinction of great, casual one-handed games.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Apple and Samsung have agreed to end their international patent disputes around the world except in the U.S.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Here's one way to make your iPhone hacker-proof: Ask hackers for advice.
Apple was granted a patent for a smartwatch, lending credence to rumors that the company will unveil a new "iWatch" this fall.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Rumored for years, the long-awaited smartwatch from Apple may finally become reality.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 2307 GMT (0707 HKT)
Here's a look at the latest version of Apple's operating system, iOS 8.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Apple announces a new "homekit" for smart home devices, iOS 8 and more at WWDC14. CNN's Dan Simon reports.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
People wait in long lines to get their hands on new Apple devices. But they drag their feet when it comes to purchasing another piece of technology that could greatly improve their lives: hearing aids.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 0859 GMT (1659 HKT)
Why did Apple purchaes Beats from hip-hop artist Dr. Dre? CNN's Samuel Burke reports.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1520 GMT (2320 HKT)
Check out Apple's proposed new headquarters — a 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship parked in a verdant man-made forest.
ADVERTISEMENT