Apple reportedly ramping up two bigger iPhones

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TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Apple suppliers in China will begin mass production of its largest iPhones ever next month, according to people familiar with the plans, as the smartphone maker faces increased competition.

Apple is ramping up on two bigger devices, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. One model will have a 4.7-inch display, compared to the 4-inch screen of the current iPhone 5s, that may be available to ship to retailers around September, said two of the people.

A 5.5-inch version is also being prepared for manufacturing and may be available at the same time, the people said. The new iPhones will be rounder and thinner than previous models, said one of the people.

Apple is getting ready for its unveiling of new iPhones after rivals including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. released smartphones with displays that are as large as 5.7 inches. Consumers have been gravitating toward larger-screen devices. In China 40 percent of mobile gadgets based on Google's Android operating system that were sold in 2014 had display sizes of more than 5 inches, according to an estimate from Forrester Research.

CEO Tim Cook is under pressure to reignite Apple's sales growth, and the iPhone, which generates more than half of the company's revenue, remains his chief weapon. Last year, the smartphone produced $91 billion in revenue, more than the total sales of Oracle, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter combined.

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Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Apple also introduced new features for the software powering the iPhone and iPad in a bid to add more functions and utility to the devices. The company's new iOS 8 mobile software has capabilities that enable people to use the gadgets to monitor their health and remotely control locks and lights for their home. -- Bloomberg News

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