Apple Inc. is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans.
Two models planned for release in the second half of next year will feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, said the person, declining to be identified as the details aren’t public. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models, the person said.
The new iPhones will be Apple’s largest at screens of 4.7 5.5 inches, the person said, approaching in size the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 that Samsung Electronics Co. debuted in September. The South Korean maker last month released the curved display Galaxy Round, the latest phone in an array of sizes and price points that’s helped keep it ahead of Apple in global market share.
The new Apple handsets are still in development and plans haven’t been completed, the person said, adding that the company will probably release them in the third quarter of next year.
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment.
Apple broke with past practice in September when it unveiled two versions of the iPhone at the same time, the iPhone 5s with more advanced features and the iPhone 5c at lower prices, as part of a strategy to appeal to broader markets.
Demand for the iPhone 5s is much higher, and iPhone 5c production has been reduced, the person said.
Testing continues on the pressure-sensitive technology, which is unlikely to be ready for the next iPhone release and is instead planned for a later model, the person said.
Apple’s testing and development of new materials follows its history of working with suppliers to produce new technologies that can enhance device functions. The original iPhone, released in 2007, offered touch-screen technology developed with Taipei-based TPK Holding Co. that was more responsive than available at the time.
Apple said last week it will open a new plant in Arizona to make components for its devices. Merrimack, New Hampshire-based GT Advanced Technologies said Apple will prepay $578 million for furnaces to make sapphire materials used in smartphones, with the iPhone maker getting some exclusive rights.
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