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DisplaySearch: Apple readying phablet, Retina MacBook Air

Research note predicts iPhone could get both 4.7- and 5.7-inch screens. Also likely on tap: high-resolution iWatch and Retina MacBook Air.

iPhone will get big.  A lot bigger, display analyst predicts.
iPhone will get big. A lot bigger, display analyst predicts.

Apple appears to be planning a phablet, a Retina MacBook Air, and a 1.6-inch iWatch in its 2014 lineup, according to a research note from NPD DisplaySearch.

In addition to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (some are calling it a 4.8-inch design), DisplaySearch anticipates a phablet-sized 5.7-inch iPhone with a 1,920x1,080 display (see chart at bottom), based on data from the supply chain of manufacturers in Asia.

That's the same resolution in many 10-inch-class devices and would match the 5-inch resolution of Samsung's Galaxy S4.

Other goodies expected from Apple include:

  • Big iPad : a 12.9-inch iPad with a 2,732×2,048 resolution display.
  • iPad Mini 2: sporting a 7.9-inch 2,048×1,536 display, matching the resolution of the larger 9.7-inch iPad.
  • Retina MacBook Air: Finally, a Retina version of the popular Air. The new MBA may have a smaller 12-inch screen boasting 2,304×1,440 resolution. (Or slightly larger if you compare it to the current 11.6-inch MacBook Air.)
  • iWatch 1.3-inch and 1.63-inch iWatch with 320×320 flexible AMOLED display.
  • Apple TV: 55-inch, a 65-inch 4Kx2K screen.

More details can be found in the DisplaySearch chart at bottom.

The note from David Hsieh does not begin on a high note, however.

"Over the past several years, Apple has been an early adaptor of display technology as well as a critical part of the supply chain...However, rapid developments in technology and manufacturing of LCD and OLED displays have challenged Apple's leadership in display adoption," Hsieh said.

In other words, lots of mobile players can match or beat Apple's Retina display technology now.

"Other smart phone brands like HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Sony are all gearing up with higher resolution, larger displays, as are the tablet PC makers, led by Google and Amazon," he said.

In closing, Hsieh believes that Apple is planning to revamp nearly all of the displays in its products over the next year, which would "indicate that Apple, once again, intends to count on display technology for new product innovation."

NPD DisplaySearch expects an iWatch with a 320x320 flexible AMOLED display and a phablet-sized iPhone.