Rumors have been circulating (and analysts have been speculating) since at least early 2013 that Apple had a larger iPhone in the works, but it wasn't until yesterday that the first credible rumor crossed my desk.
The CEO of Canonical has reportedly gone on the record as saying that his company was outbid for a smartphone component. "Apple just snapped up the entire 3-year supply of the same sapphire display we wanted for the Edge," Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth is referring to the Ubuntu Edge, the smartphone which his company had tried to fund on Indiegogo last summer. That project didn't even come close to raising the $32 million needed to fund development and manufacturing, but as a result of the failed effort Canonical did release technical details on the Edge.
That phone, which would have run Ubuntu Linux and could double as a full PC, would have had a quad-core CPU with at least 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP in the front. But most importantly, the Edge was also supposed to have a 4.5" 1280 x 720 resolution display with “Sapphire crystal glass”.
It's this 4.5" screen which Apple supposedly bought in massive quantities, assuming Shuttleworth is correct. But is he? I don't know.
One possible caveat with this claim is that it's not clear when Apple snatched up the screens, nor is it clear what size screen Apple snapped up. For all we know Shuttleworth could have (for example) been referring to a 4" screen which Canonical was unable to acquire because Apple got to them first. Or this might be a reference to the raw material itself, and not the screen.
And there are other issues. That's not just a different screen size than what Apple is currently using; it's also a different resolution. Yes, the ratio is 16:9, just like the 4" iPhone scree, but the resolution is different. I can't recall having heard any software rumors from developers about a new screen resolution showing up in Apple's code.
In any case, this rumor is the first to meet my new standards of credibility. It might not be true but it has a better chance of coming true than most of the rumors we've read over the past year.