The rumour that Apple would release a larger screened iPhone (seemingly in response to the trend in Android devices) has been floating around for a while now. And Apple’s release of the iPhone 5 — a whole 0.5″ larger than past iPhones — did little to quell them.

But now the [n]ever reliable DigiTimes is “reporting” that Apple will release a larger iPhone in May 2014.

Let’s forget for a moment that claiming that Apple will release any sized new iPhone in May is absurd, and just focus on the screen size.

I did some quick and dirty calculations on Twitter, and worked out that an iPhone with the same 640×1136 resolution of the iPhone 5/5s and a 5″ display (well, technically 4.94″ but it’s close enough) would have the same pixel density as the iPad Air. So running an iPhone app on the iPad Air in 1x mode would be an exact representation of the larger iPhone.

This would, however, mean that everything would be the exact same as the current iPhone, only a bit bigger, and a bit less sharp.

Personally, I don’t think this seems like a very “Apple” solution — whatever that means.

There are a few more alternatives for a larger screened iPhone.

An iPhone with a 1280×720 display, maintaining the current 326ppi as the current iPhone would have a 4.5″ display. That seems like a plausible leap for Apple — the only other increase in display size was by 0.5″, after all.

Alternatively, a 1280×720 display at 5″ would have a pixel density of 293ppi. However, I think Apple would avoid this, as it would mean a whole other display type for designers and developers to work with.

Keeping the current 640×1136 resolution on a 5″ display, and keeping the existing pixel density at 4.5″ would both help in that regard: keeping the existing resolution would mean that everything would look exactly as it currently does, only slightly larger; keeping the existing pixel density would mean that art made for the existing iPhones would look the same, but there would be more room on the display. Preceding the release of the iPhone 5, Apple introduced APIs to allow apps to stretch and scale to fit displays. The same APIs would be used for apps to fit the increased screen space of a 4.5″ display.

Relative size of iPhones at various resolutions and pixel densities.

I’ve put together some mockups that, when displayed full size on an iPad Mini, will show the actual size of a 4.5″ iPhone at 720×1280, and a 5″ iPhone at 640×1136.

Update: Another interesting tidbit: a 4.5″ display could fit within the size of the current iPhone, meaning the physical size of the device could stay the same. And when I say “fit”, I mean, it would just fit. The display would come right to the bezel on the sides, and the home-button would have to shrink by 22% to fit. The display would just about line up with the seams on sides of the iPhone 5/5s.