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Apple ought to supersize the iPhone. Here's why

Just as Apple decided that customers wanted an iPad in the 7- to 8-inch range, the company should have an iPhone in the works that falls between the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini in screen size.

iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, iPad mini

With the iPhone 5 now moving off the constrained supply list, the rumor mill is turning its attention to what is said to be the next iPhone iteration, the 5S. The forum published alleged images of an iPhone 5S, noting screws in the assembly in different positions from the iPhone 5.

If Apple follows its previous history of "S" upgrades, like the iPhone 4S, a 5S will launch in the spring, housed in the same chassis as the iPhone 5 but with improved innards. Apple CEO Tim Cook and his lieutenants will tout faster processors and other clever engineering feats in sharing the "amazing" 5S with the world.  As design chief Jony Ive said about the iPhone 5 in a promotional video, "Never before have we built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish." He explained, "By making the screen taller, not wider, you can see more of the content and comfortably use it with one hand."  

The fit and finish of an iPhone 5 is superb, as well as the overall user experience sans maps, but the skinny 4-inch display leaves me wanting more screen real estate. I recently have been using an Android-based Samsung Galaxy 3 and a Windows Phone 8-based HTC 8X, which have much larger screens. Stretching the screen by 0.33 inches on the iPhone 5 offers another row of icons, but it feels constrained for consuming media once you have experienced the larger screens of Samsung, HTC, and other smartphones. And one-handed usage and owning the most thin-and-light gadget are not at the top of my most desired features for a mobile device. You can argue about the quality of the screens, but for mere mortals, they are all more than capable of competently rendering text, images, and video.

Apple decided that customers wanted an iPad in the 7- to 8-inch range, and didn't worry too much about cannibalizing the larger iPads. Of course,  Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindles provided inspiration for Apple to pull the trigger on the Mini. 

iPhone 5 sales have been strong so far. Investment bank Canaccord Genuity expects calendar fourth-quarter sales to hit 47.5 million, up from 27 million last quarter. But Samsung is providing plenty of incentive with the Galaxy S III for Apple to add a larger iPhone into the mix, and deal with the issues that come with offering multiple screen sizes. Samsung said that it has sold more than 30 million Galaxy S III smartphones over the last five months. The Galaxy Note II "phablet," with a 5.5-inch display, offers an even bigger, although somewhat unwieldy, alternative to the modest iPhone screen. 

 The question now is, how long will Apple wait to bring a bigger-screen iPhone to market?