File photo: The analysis by Harvard University professor Sendhil Mullainathan showed the number of searches increased by up to three times immediately following a new launch from Apple.

New York - Evidence is mounting that the next generation of Apple's iPhone will have a bigger screen than current models, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Apple had ordered screens measuring at least 4 inches (10.2cm) diagonally from its Asian supplier, according to people familiar with the situation, the report said.

The current iPhone 4S model has a 3.5-inch screen.

The move is seen as an effort to emulate the larger screens of rivals such as Samsung, whose smartphones use Android technology. It would be the first increase in screen size since Apple launched its iPhone range in 2007.

Earlier in May, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S3 model with a diagonal screen size of 4.8 inches.

Apple did not comment on the report, nor has it named a date for the launch of the new iPhone, expected later this year.

The production of the new screens is to begin in June, the report said. - Sapa-dpa