* Next iPhone expected to have larger screens
* Sharp declines to give specific date for shipments
TOKYO Aug 2 Japan's Sharp Corp. will start shipping screens destined for a new Apple iPhone that is widely expected to be released in October ahead of the pre-Christmas shopping season.
"Shipments will start in August," Sharp's new president, Takashi Okuda, said at a press briefing in Tokyo on Thursday after the company released its latest quarterly earnings.
He declined to give a more specific date for shipments beyond this month.
Apple is planning a major product launch on Sept 12, stoking speculation that the world's most valuable technology company will announce the sale of its redesigned iPhone. Sharp, identified as a supplier by Apple last year, is one of three companies expected to build the screens for the latest Apple offering.
Sharp does not comment on its relationship with Apple, but the screens set to start shipping in August are widely known to be headed for the new iPhone.
The other two suppliers of the panels are LG Display Co Ltd and Japan Display Inc.
Apple is equipping the next iPhone with a larger screen after Samsung Electronics unveiled its latest Galaxy smartphone with a 4.8-inch touch-screen.
Sources earlier told Reuters that the panels will be 4 inches corner to corner -- 30 percent bigger than current iPhones.
Samsung last month posted a record operating profit of $5.9 billion for the quarter ended June, helped by sales of its latest handset.
The iPhone screens will also be thinner than their previous incarnations with the use of so-called in-cell panels. The new technology embeds touch sensors into the liquid crystal display, eliminating the touch-screen layer found in current iPhones.
Samsung and Apple on Tuesday faced off at the start of a high-stakes patent trial, where Apple has accused Samsung of stealing iPhone features like scrolling and multi-touch.