No—stop it. Close that tab. Stop reading that. The Apple rumor de jour—a 4.6-inch iPhone 5—is the same reheated broth some filthy cook serves yearly. It wasn't true last year, or the year before. Here's why it's still BS.
Reuters, usually a staid, reliable entity when it comes to not spreading gleeful crap rumors, dove headfirst into this one:
Apple has decided on the bigger 4.6-inch display for its next iPhone and started placing orders to its suppliers, the Maeil Business Newspaper said, quoting an unnamed industry source.
Oh, well in that case! That's about as trustworthy as someone stumbling, blacked out, from a dive bar bathroom and handing you a crayon-drawn list of iPhone 5 features. But beyond the complete baselessness of the report, there are good reasons why this thing rumor is hot, sweaty air, regardless of source.
"Retina display" is the phrase of the day at Apple. Its meaning is fluid, but its connotations are clear: beautiful screen! Apple's gadgets keep getting prettier displays, and a bump up to 4.6 inches would create some serious problems. The iPhone 4S is sitting pretty at a DPI of 326. But bloat the screen up by 1.1 inches, and your density drops to 250 DPI—that ain't retina display. Even if Apple threw in a 720p resolution on the next phone, it'd still be a net decrease in pixel density from last year's model. A big no-no.
Oh! And then every single app in the entire store would have to be redesigned. Another, giant, flaming no-no.
The Terrifying Ghost of Steve Jobs
Jobs decided the iPhone would be 3.5 inches six years ago. Every single iPhone has been 3.5 inches. Every single iPod Touch has been 3.5 inches. Apple, even under the competent Captain Cook, would make customers and investors alike nervous once they started to stray from the Jobsian Plan for The Universe.
3.5 Ain't Broke
As it exists now, the iPhone (2G, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S) fits perfectly in your hand, whether you've got bigger than usual mitts or baby hands. The entire screen and home button can be struck by your thumb alone. It's just big enough for movies, perfect as a camera rangefinder, and perfectly comfortable for casual reading. It'll also fit just fine in your pants, no matter how skinny. There's just something optimal about 3.5 inches. We know it, and Apple knows it. For a company with such monastic dedication to consistency, this isn't a factor the company is likely to start screwing with—especially with an inch-plus increase. So what's Apple's incentive? Why alter a form that sells millions upon millions every single year?
The Source and Timing Are Suspect
To say the least. Let's reiterate: this rumor has come out of a Korean newspaper with no Apple track record to speak of, citing an "unnamed industry source" about a "second quarter" launch that makes no sense. Apple is going to release a new iPhone 7-9 months after the last one? Nuh uh.
Why Join the Size Race?
As our pals at FWD pointed out, as phone manufacturers come out with ever-expanding displays, we're approaching a Phone/Penis Singularity. Just like computers used to slap each other back and forth over speed, phones now race to out-big each other, with the hilarious grotesquery of the Galaxy Note being one logical result. Will it stop there? Probably not! The HTC Titan is a delightful exception, but bigger has by no means proven to be better. Conceding anything close to this would put Apple in a pissing contest, rather a city on a hill.
Photo by Techblock