Envisioning an Apple iPhone 6 'phablet'

A 5.5-inch Apple phone would be the device I have the highest hopes for. And it would plug a hole in Apple's lineup.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

An Apple 'phablet' could be one of the better Apple products to come along in a while. Screen capture/Brooke Crothers

Of all the rumored Apple products due later this year, the large 5.5-inch device is the one that's got my full attention.

Earlier this week, a research note from Ming Chi-Kuo, a reputable analyst from KGI Securities, indicated that a 5.5-inch phablet may be the pinnacle of Apple's newest phone offerings.

He isn't the first to cite the device. NPD DisplaySearch (among others) back in January said it was seeing activity among the chain of display suppliers that Apple was testing a 5.5-inch product. But Kuo is one of the first to anticipate some other potentially intriguing high-end aspects.

He believes that the 5.5-incher will get a sapphire screen cover, while other lower-end iPhone offerings may not. And it may also pack a relatively large battery -- "50% to 70% more watt-hours" than the 5S.

And both Kuo and DisplaySearch see it getting a 1,920x1,080 resolution display -- offering the highest pixel densities of any Apple product to date.

Let me add that it will almost undoubtedly pack a next-gen Apple A series processor with some of the fastest graphics silicon on the market to push all those pixels around.

Kuo also mentioned that Apple may market it as a phablet, implying some special branding. As such, he said, it would eat into iPad Mini sales.

This is where it gets interesting for me.

First of all, it would plug a gaping hole in Apple's phone lineup and give consumers (like me) a reason not to look to Samsung -- or elsewhere.

On a more personal level, it might obviate the need for an iPad Mini.

My iPad Air -- much thinner, lighter than the iPad 4 that preceded it -- has relegated the iPad Mini Retina (which I also own) to backup device status. To put it another way, the wide gulf in weight between Mini and iPad 4 has been pretty much eradicated with the Air.

So, I would welcome a phablet as both an upgrade to the iPhone 5S and as a replacement for the Mini.

And while I like the 5S, I've found that I often have a need for quick access to a larger screen than the 4-incher on the iPhone. Screen real estate means a lot to me and a phablet seems like a good way to address this.

Let's just hope that DisplaySearch, Kuo, and the supply chain are right.