Analyst: Screen Size Won’t Be the Only Difference Between New iPhones

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It has been widely reported that Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 6 will be released in two models with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Assuming the rumors about the two screen size variants are accurate, this year’s iPhone launch will mark the second time that Apple has released two iPhone models at the same time.

Last year, Apple launched the lower-cost iPhone 5C alongside the flagship iPhone 5S. However, both of last year’s models featured 4-inch size screens. There was also some debate about whether the iPhone 5C truly qualified as a new model, since it featured the same hardware that was used in the discontinued iPhone 5, including the last-generation A6 chip.

However, a recently issued research note from Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri suggested that the two upcoming iPhone models will have screen design and processing power differences. In a note obtained by AppleInsider, Arcuri cited his Asian supply chain checks that suggested the 5.5-inch model will feature a more powerful processor than the 4.7-inch model.

AppleInsider reports that it is not unprecedented for Apple to release processors with varying levels of performance. The iPad Air has achieved a per-core clock speed of 1.39 GHz with the A7 processor, while the same processor in the iPad mini with Retina display achieved only 1.29 GHz.

However, Arcuri noted that the phablet-sized iPhone 6 might also feature a larger die, which could indicate more on-die silicon. This could mean that the processor for the larger iPhone 6 model might feature more cores than the smaller model, which could create a significant difference in processing power.

According to AppleInsider, a larger die might also suggest that Apple is producing the A8 processor in different fabs and using different manufacturing processes. According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal last month, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is providing some of the processors that will be used in Apple’s next-generation iPhones and iPads, although Apple is still relying on longtime exclusive A-series chip supplier Samsung (SSNLF.PK) for some of its processor needs. However, it is unknown if the split in manufacturing duties is related to the difference in the two devices’ processors.

Besides featuring different application processors, Arcuri also suggested that the two iPhone 6 models might feature different touch modules. Per AppleInsider, Taiwan-based touch panel maker TPK currently provides the touch module for Apple’s iPhone. Earlier this year, DigiTimes reported that TPK would also be supplying the “silver nanowire touch screen technology” for the iWatch. However, it is unclear if TPK will continue to provide the touch modules for Apple’s newest iPhone models.

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