Production issues could delay giant 5.5-inch iPhone until 2015

iPhone 6 and 6c concept

Besides a 4.7-inch model, Apple has been expected to announce an even larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 this fall. But now production issues might keep Apple from pulling the trigger on an iPhablet until winter or even 2015.

Ming-Chi Kuo of the Taiwanese firm KGI Securities, who has been a consistently reliable source of information on Apple’s plans, isn’t bullish on seeing a 5.5-inch iPhone by the end of the year. Problems with the phone’s new display and casing could result in it being pushed back until well after the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 comes out.

Apple is running into complications with the largeness of the new iPhones, according to Kuo. Production issues are specifically related to the in-cell displays and metal casings being used.

Sapphire crystal is rumored to be implemented as a protective coating for the next iPhone hardware, although there has been some disagreement as to which models will get the sapphire treatment. Kuo worries that the 5.5-inch model, which he originally said would have a sapphire display to differentiate it from the 4.7-inch, still won’t pass “the drop test near term.” He still seems to believe that sapphire is only coming to the 5.5-inch model, although we recently saw a leaked sapphire 4.7-inch display.

“We are conservative about 5.5-inch iPhone launching by end-2014,” notes Kuo, who has not always been (but is still often) accurate with when Apple will release new hardware. Even if Apple does launch in 2014, Kuo doesn’t see it happening until after October.

So contrary to recent reports, the likely scenario is that Apple will not debut both larger iPhones at once

So contrary to recent reports, the likely scenario is that Apple will not debut both larger iPhones at once. The 5.5-inch model may not even come out before Christmas. Apple typically announces new iPhones in September, and the iWatch is rumored to be coming out in October of this year.

With regards to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, Kuo believes “production bottlenecks” are centered around the same in-cell touch display and metal casing. There’s reportedly an issue with the edges of the larger display becoming insensitive to touch, and “color unevenness is an issue” for the device’s metal exterior. Like last year with the 5s, supplies of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will probably be constrained for the first couple of months it’s on the market.

If the avalanche of leaked parts and schematics are any indication, the iPhone 6 will feature a more iPod touch-like design with curved edges and an entirely metal back. Along with the 5.5-inch model, the device is expected to include the A8 processor and an improved camera.

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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