The trend for smartphones with screen sizes of 5 to just under 7 inches, known as ‘phablets’, continues to grow, with manufacturers shipping 25.2 million of the devices in Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) in the second quarter of 2013.
Apple has reportedly decided to join the fray and is said to be developing iPhones with curved-glass screens and enhanced sensors that detect different levels of pressure.
Two models — with screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches —are in the works, and both would use glass that curves downward at the edges, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the plans.
Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models, the person said.
The new phones would likely be released in the third quarter of next year.
Curved glass has become a smartphone trend among major tech companies. Both Samsung and LG unveiled their own curved-screen smartphones last month. The LG G Flex and Samsung Galaxy Round are both designed to mirror the curvature of the user’s face and make the devices more comfortable to hold.
Samsung’s and LG’s curved phones are only available in the South Korean market as the companies seek to gauge consumer appetite. However, the global flexible display industry is predicted to grow rapidly in the next few years, and research firm IHS Display estimates the market will be worth $1.5 billion (£900 million) by 2016.
Apple has not confirmed any rumors, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.