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iPhone 6 excitement at record high, consumers want phablets

Consumers are really digging the idea that Apple's next iPhone will have a larger screen.

According to a new survey from 451 Research's ChangeWave service, consumers are showing an "unprecedented level" of interest in the so-called iPhone 6, indicating Apple's next-generation smartphone could be an even bigger hit than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s .

In the March survey of 4,109 primarily North American respondents, 40 per cent said they were likely to buy the next iPhone once it goes on sale.

"This is the highest level of demand for an unannounced Apple model in a ChangeWave survey — stronger than we've seen in previous years for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 models prior to their announcements," Andy Golub of ChangeWave parent company 451 Research said in a statement. "Speculation over a larger screen iPhone is clearly striking a chord with consumers."

In comparison, just 26 per cent of consumers polled before the iPhone 5s came out said they were at least somewhat likely to buy it while 33 per cent saw themselves purchasing the iPhone 5 prior to its debut.

In the latest survey, ChangeWave asked consumers how likely it was that they would buy a new iPhone 6 that had a larger screen, gesture control features, a faster processor, and updated iOS mobile operating system. Fourteen per cent said they were "very likely" to purchase the handset and another 26 per cent were "somewhat likely."

Reports about larger iPhones have been making the rounds for ages with Bloomberg tipping 4.7 and 5.5in devices in November and Japan's Nikkei Asian Review reiterating the rumour last month. If true, the new 4.7in and 5.5in screens will dwarf the current 4in Retina display iPhone 5s. Apple is expected to debut its next-gen iPhone this fall, though a recent report suggested that Apple ishaving some problems with the 5.5-inch model.

Meanwhile, ChangeWave's latest survey also indicated that phablet demand is going up. Nearly half (47 per cent) of those planning to buy a smartphone over the next 90 days want a device with at least a 5in screen, up from 40 per cent in December.