Is Apple Ignoring a Growing Screen Size Trend?

Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) missing out on a supersized smartphone trend? A recent survey conducted by market research firm Strategy Analytics suggests that the Cupertino-based company may want to give some serious thought to expanding the screen size of its next generation of devices.

According to the survey, existing smartphone owners in the second half of 2012 preferred devices with a screen size between 4.2 inches and 4.7 inches. Within this range, consumers were most interested in smartphones with a screen size of 4.5 inches.

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Apple’s current flagship smartphone — the iPhone 5 — features a 4-inch screen. Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) flagship smartphone — the Galaxy S4 — features a 5-inch screen. Interestingly, this survey indicates that the ideal screen size lies in the middle ground between the screen sizes of the two rival smartphone makers’ flagship devices.

The survey also found that it is likely that this trend towards larger smartphone screens will continue. The preferred screen size in 2012 was larger than the average preferred screen size in 2011. In another indication of consumers’ future purchasing intentions, respondents also said that they preferred phones with larger screens than the ones they currently owned.

Samsung started the phone-tablet hybrid trend with its line of Galaxy Note “phablets.” Phablets are especially popular in the Asian market and some analysts have urged Apple to exploit this market by releasing its own “iPhone Max.”

Laurence Isaac Balter of Oracle Investment Research is one analyst that believes many consumers are choosing Samsung smartphones over Apple’s devices due to the larger screen sizes. Via The New York Times, Balter states, “The market is clearly saying the larger screen. People, when they’re faced between the two, are choosing the larger screen.”

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Other analysts believe that Apple only needs to incrementally increase the screen size to take advantage of this trend. Canalys Principal Analyst Pete Cunningham noted via a press release that “the biggest dilemma that Apple faces is what it does with the size of the display on the next iPhone. It cannot afford to ignore the trend for larger displays in premium smartphones. We expect an increase of the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display but are not anticipating a ‘phablet’-style iPhone.”

Apple shares closed up 0.39 percent at $454.94 on Monday. Here’s how Apple has traded over the past week.

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