Apple could be taking a cue from frenemy Samsung with its next iOS device, offering a gadget that's a bit larger than most cell phones, but about half the size of a tablet.
According to Japanese Apple news site Macotakara, Apple's working with LCD suppliers to get a 5-inch panel with a pixel density high enough to be able to call it a Retina Display. That's according to "a reliable Chinese source," the site said.
That smaller device would arrive sometime next year, Macotakara suggested, and sport either a 1,600 by 960 pixel or 1,280 by 960 pixel resolution -- either of which would be a first for an iOS device.
This is just the latest in a series of reports claiming Apple's working on iOS device that falls somewhere between the iPhone and the iPad. Earlier this month, a report from the Korea Times cited an unnamed Samsung official saying Apple this year would be releasing an iPad with a 7.85-inch screen. That's as opposed to the current iPad's 9.7-inch display. Days before that, there was a report from VentureBeat saying Apple was eyeing a slightly-smaller 7.1-inch panel instead.
Muddying up both these claims is the idea that these panels could actually end up being for a next-generation smartphone instead. A report from Reuters last week suggested as much, claiming that Apple was vying to pick up a slightly smaller 4.6-inch display for a new crop of iPhones with screens larger than the 3.5-inch panel the iPhone's shipped with since its introduction.
Apple is under considerably more scrutiny when it comes to the components it buys. The company has a very small variance in its product sizes, offering just a handful of configurations, and keeping sizes the same from generation to generation. This has been under particularly tight control with Apple's iOS family, which just recently jumped to a fourth possible screen resolution with the third-generation iPad.
By comparison, most of Apple's competitors -- notably Samsung -- have taken a different approach by building its notebooks, handsets and tablets at varying sizes. For instance, Samsung's Galaxy Note device, which has a 5.3-inch display, pulls double duty as a phone and a tablet. Earlier today Samsung said it's sold 5 million units of the Note globally since launching in February. Other such efforts include LG's Optimus Vu, and the ill-fated line of Dell Streak devices.