Apple roundup: Bigger iPhones, carrier subsidies, U.S. Mac sales

|About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)|By:, SA News Editor

Two months after Bloomberg reported Apple (AAPL) is working on 4.7" and 5.5" iPhones, Cantor's Brian White says his checks indicate 4.7" and 5.5" iPhones could be on tap. He adds the phones might see staggered launches.

Also, Chinese site CTech has posted images of what it claims is the frame for a 4.7" iPhone 6.

More than a few analysts, investors, and writers have been urging Apple to launch bigger phones (could potentially have higher ASPs), and thereby cater to the hundreds of millions of smartphone users who prefer larger screen sizes.

Though showing no signs of doing away with traditional phone subsidies (T-Mobile excepted), U.S. carriers continue to roll out plans that offer discounts for doing without them. AT&T has discounted its shared data plans for unsubsidized users, and is offering an extra $200 in credit to switching T-Mobile users who forgo subsidies; Sprint is offering substantial group discounts to unsubsidized phone buyers; and T-Mobile (already relying on payment plans in lieu of subsidies) is now offering up to $650 in credit to users switching from other carriers.

Apple and Samsung (SSNLF, SSNGY), as the dominant high-end U.S. smartphone suppliers (and thus the biggest subsidy beneficiaries), have the most at risk from any major decline in subsidized phone purchases.

Gartner and IDC have provided very different figures for Q4 U.S. Mac sales, which benefited from a MacBook/iMac refresh. Gartner thinks they rose 28% Y/Y to 2.2M, leaving Apple with a 13.7% U.S. PC share (+380 bps Y/Y). But IDC thinks they fell 3%, and assigns Apple a 10.9% U.S. PC share (flat Y/Y).