Concept for a larger-screened iPhone, via iMore.
Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald issued a note to investors on Friday in response to a new report that claimed Apple has been toying with screen sizes measuring up to 6 inches diagonally for future iPhones. The company is said to have become particularly interested in the 4.8-inch screen size.
White believes Apple will release a larger iPhone next year. He believes Apple will stick around the 5-inch range, as anything bigger would be "more like an 'iPhad' than an iPhone," he said.
The analyst has taken numerous trips to China over the last 18 months, during which he's noticed that consumers in that country have increasingly been preferring smartphones with larger displays. Though he has in the past called some of the more jumbo-sized handsets at 6 inches or more "embarrassingly large," White believes an iPhone approaching 5 inches would help Apple gain traction with new customers.
According to White, especially large smartphones are viewed as something of a fashion statement in China. Users there also feel that a bigger screen helps them consolidate devices, having less of a need for a separate tablet or computer.
Next week, Apple is expected to introduce a more affordable iPhone model with a plastic back in a range of colors ??something that is expected to have considerable appeal in developing markets like China.
White believes Apple's so-called "iPhone 5C" will help the company gain market share in China, but that a larger iPhone is also needed. He noted that total revenue in greater China fell 14 percent year over year in the third quarter of the company's fiscal year 2013.
China is the largest smartphone market in the world, representing about a third of annual shipments. White estimates that 3G users in China will grow by 78 percent this year to 415 million.
Cantor Fitzgerald has maintained its "buy" rating for AAPL stock, with a price target of $777.