Apple said to release iPhones larger than 4.5- and 5-inches later this year

Apple plans to launch two iPhones in 2014 that will move away from the 4-inch screen size it has stuck to over the last two versions, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The publication, who has correctly pegged Apple launches in the past, says one model will carry a display larger than 4.5-inches, and another with a display bigger than 5-inches. The new iPhones are expected in the second half of this year, with metal casings similar to the iPhone 5S. They won't feature a curved display, like previously tipped, if Thursday's report is to be believed. 

Apple has stayed away from a handset larger than 4-inches thus far, so it's interesting the company plans to finally jump in the phablet space with a larger handset. It's presumed the company is feeling pressure from other manufacturers as smartphones 5 to 7 inches have made up a good amount of recent smartphone launches.

Phablet shipments accounted for 21 per cent of the smartphone market during Q3 2013, according to IDC. Ryan Reith, program director with the research firm, told clients in a note in November: "We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple's inability to grow share in the third quarter." Some customers have echoed the sentiment lately, complaining Apple's handsets are too small. 

The Wall Street Journal didn't name specifications for the handsets to launch this year. However, it's said that Apple will scrap the plastic design found in the iPhone 5C completely. 

This isn't the first time we've heard about two, larger iPhones from the Cupertino-based company. Bloomberg, who is also well-connected with Apple, reported in November that the company is planning two smartphones, one at 4.7 inches and another at 5.5 inches, for 2014. Unlike The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg said they're set to have curved glass. 

Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer, has been hyping 2014. In a letter to employees at the end of last year, the executive said: "We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love." 

Apple reports its earnings for the Christmas quarter on Monday. The consensus from analysts is the iPhone 5S boosted Apple's mobile sales 10 per cent, set to make new records for the company.

In typical Apple secrecy, the company declined to comment on Thursday's rumours.