Contrary to previous reports that suggested Apple’s next-generation iPhone would include a 4.2-inch touch screen panel, Asian technology publication Digitimes reports that the device will feature a smaller 4-inch panel, adapting the rear of the device to ship with a metal chassis instead of reinforced glass.

Digitimes’ points out that the many of the rumoured specifications expected to be featured in the iPhone 5 are the market’s expectations, with sources indicating that the device will possibly adopt a significantly smaller screen than first imagined:

The sources pointed out that the upcoming iPhone will not have many differences compared to iPhone 4 in terms of components and the panel will still be less than 4-inch.

The iPhone 5 will adopt a 3.5- to 3.7-inch panel with a design to allow the bezel of the panel to become thinner and make the screen look larger.

The inclusion of a metal back will divide opinion, given suggestions that Apple had intentionally utilised glass designs to boost the device’s signal strength. The company has a track history of iterating its devices to reduce size and profile, suggesting it would be able to compromise on screen size by including a bezel to maximise the visibility of the panel.

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 5 and a low-cost upgraded iPhone 4 model (iPhone 4S) in the coming weeks, bringing an end to rumours and speculation over what technologies and features its devices will adopt.