SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple broke with past practice in September when it unveiled two versions of the iPhone at the same time. The company presented the iPhone 5s, with more advanced features and the iPhone 5c at lower prices. It was all part of a strategy to appeal to broader markets.

Now the company is busily developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a source familiar with the plans.

Two models planned for release in the second half of next year would feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, said the person, declining to be identified because the details aren't public. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models.

File: In this Thursday, May 9, 2013 photo, people walk near the Apple store in Santa Monica, Calif.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
File: In this Thursday, May 9, 2013 photo, people walk near the Apple store in Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ( Reed Saxon )

With screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, the two new models would be Apple's largest iPhones, according to the source, and would approach in size the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 that Samsung Electronics Co. debuted in September. The South Korean maker released its curved-screen Galaxy Round, the latest phone in an array of sizes and price points that's helping keep Samsung ahead of Apple in global market share.

The new Apple handsets are still in development and plans haven't been completed, the source said, adding that the company probably would release them in the third quarter of next year.

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


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Apple broke with past practice in September when simultaneously unveiled two versions of the iPhone. The source said that demand for the iPhone 5s is much higher, and iPhone 5c production has been reduced.

Apple's traditional holiday sales period, may be the slowest since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on the company's financial forecast published last month.

Meanwhile, last month Samsung said it expects this quarter's shipment growth rate from the prior quarter to fall to a "low single digit" percentage from the "mid-10 percent range" the prior period.

Testing continues on the pressure-sensitive technology, which is unlikely to be ready for the next iPhone release, said the source, and is instead planned for a later model.

Apple's testing and development of new materials follows its history of working with suppliers to produce new technologies that can enhance device functions. The original iPhone, released in 2007, offered touchscreen technology developed with Taipei-based TPK Holding Co. (3673) that was more responsive than available at the time.

Apple said last week it will open a new plant in Arizona to make components for its devices. Merrimack, New Hampshire-based GT Advanced Technologies said Apple will prepay $578 million for furnaces to make sapphire materials used in smartphones, with the iPhone maker getting some exclusive rights.