Apple Inc (AAPL) “Phablet” May be in the Works [iPhone Math]?

Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to release the iPhone 5s as well as a less expensive mobile device later this year have already been widely reported. But according to the China Times—as translated by Bright Wire—Cupertino also has a “phablet” in the works. The 4.8-inch iPhone Math will feature a 12-mega-pixel camera and will hit the market before Christmas.

The Times cites upstream supply chain sources, including Largan which has received orders for 8 million camera lenses,; Fujikura, Flexium and Zhen Ding—which will share production of printed circuit boards—and Foxconn Technology and Coxcon, which will provide the molding parts for Apple’s newest models.

Details regarding the so- called Apple (AAPL) “phablet” are scarce, but according to the Times, the display will be almost a full inch larger than the iPhone 5’s screen. Component shipments are set to begin in March in order to begin production in late April.

Is the phablet the future of mobile devices? Basically combining the popular features of smartphone and tablet, the device has a screen large enough to make complex games and applications more user-friendly, but is small enough to slip into a purse or pocket. The Samsung Galaxy Note showed that a large smartphone could work in the U.S. market after the phablet trend caught on in Japan.

Apple (AAPL) has taken baby steps toward the phenomenon by creating the iPad Mini and expanding the display on the iPhone 5. The tech giant also announced it will begin selling the iPad Mini with a built-in cellphone in China in 2013. If it were to create the iPhone Math as reported, the phablet would be the next logical step in merging the two technologies.

Still, as Pixobebo’s Kate MacKenzie pointed out Jan. 8, increasing the size of an iPhone would complicate screen resolution since Apple (AAPL) has offered Retina display on all of its iOS devices. According to MacKenzie, the resolution of an larger-screened iPhone would need to be scaled upward in order for Apple to overcome the Retina display issue for a phablet. Granted MacKenzie was forecasting a possible 5.5-inch display device.

Are the reports from the China Times believable? Will Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) launch three versions of the iPhone in 2013. Stay tuned for updates.