Apple might have more tricks up its sleeve for next year's iPhone, with a new 5-inch model joining the mix of iPhone sizes.
Since the iPhone 6, Apple has offered two differently-sized phones — a 4.7-inch iPhone alongside the 5.5-inch Plus model. That could be changing in 2017, according to Japanese Apple-trackign site Macotakara. Citing sources in Apple's supply chain, Macotakara says a 5-inch iPhone might be in Apple's product plans. According to the report, the 5-inch iPhone would otherwise features the same components as the 4.7- and 5.5-inch phones; Apple would just be giving shoppers another screen size option.
In addition to a different screen size, Apple is reportedly working on offering a dual-lens system in the 5-inch handset. However, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a side-by-side dual-lens design, the 5-inch option would deliver a vertical layout for its lenses, the report says.
Apple, of course, won't confirm what its plans are for next year, so we're left with rumors from the company's supply chain about what might be coming next. That said, all signs point to a big update to the iPhone next year and a 5-inch handset could be part of a broader initiative by Apple to expand the appeal of its smartphone lineup.
Many rumors swirling about the iPhone 8 forecast a third iPhone model in 2017. However, most of those rumors suggest two of those models will feature modest updates to Apple's existing iPhones — an iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, if you will — while the third model would feature more substantive changes such as an OLED screen and wireless charging. Assuming that Apple still plans to come out with at least one phone that marks a major redesign over the current iPhones, MacOtakara's report could mean four different iPhones next year (4.7-, 5- and 5.5-inch variants of the iPhone 7, plus a high-end iPhone 8).
This isn't the first rumor to float the idea of a 5-inch iPhone. In October, a report from Nikkei Asian Review said that Apple had its sights set on a 5-inch handset. At the time, other analysts dismissed that speculation.
Another possibility for Apple: Switch to 5- and 5.5-inch models of the iPhone, while leaving the 4-inch iPhone SE as the phone of choice for people who prefer more compact devices. That would certainly be in line with industry trends, with IDC telling us earlier this year that shipments of smartphones with screens under 5 inches had fallen in 2015.
Still, we won't know exactly what Apple has planned until we get a little bit closer to the iPhone 8's expected launch date in the fall. Until then, expect to hear a lot more about multiple iPhone models and sizes, as people wait to see what Apple has planned for the 10th anniversary of its smartphone.