MANILA, Philippines – Apple certainly loves its keynotes and special events. With a new event slated for 10 am of September 10 (1 am, September 11, Philippine time) at its Cupertino headquarters, many are betting on some new products — such as a new iPhone — to hit the market as a result.
While waiting for the event, pundits have been busy churning out information, predictions, and speculations. Here are some of them:
The next high-end iPhone
One thing that seems certain among tech pundits is the coming of a new iPhone. The problem is, no one has a firm grasp of what the next iteration will be.
On the high-end side of things, it is expected that an iPhone 5S will be announced. Current speculation from Techradar suggests that there won’t actually be a significant upgrade in some respects, aside from a better camera, a faster processor, and possibly larger storage space.
While that might not seem great for many, having a not-so-radically different iPhone may increase Apple’s gross margins.
According to ZDNet and financial weekly Barron’s, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty dug through Apple’s 10-Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 10-Q states that the lower gross margin for 2013 was “largely due to anticipation of a higher mix of new and innovative products with flat or reduced pricing that have higher cost structures and deliver greater value to customers and anticipated component cost and other cost increases.” In other words, the iPhone 5 cost more than usual to manufacture, which hurt the margins.
Huberty adds that two quarters ago, Apple invested US$4.5 billion for the displays on the iPhone 5, but they committed $904 million now.
She writes, “The decrease is likely due to iPhone 5S not requiring significant hardware changes, therefore iPhone GM could be much higher in [second half of calendar year 2013].” Simply put, the financials suggest we shouldn’t expect a ton of bells and whistles in a new high-end iPhone.
A cheaper, but not cheap, iPhone
On the other side of the tech spectrum, there is also speculation surrounding a budget iPhone. This budget iPhone, which many are calling the iPhone 5C, is supposed to expand Apple’s market in light of the inroads being made by Android devices worldwide.
As Beijing, Berlin, and Tokyo also appear to be getting their own events after the announcement, more iPhone types being sold in more markets seem like good business. The Times of India reports that Apple’s profits in India, for example, came not from sales of the iPhone 5, but from buyback programs allowing people to buy iPhone 4 units.
How would a budget iPhone differentiate itself? Aside from slightly lower specs, the physical makeup is important. Easier-to-produce plastic iPhones, such as the plastic used to make the iPhone 3G and 3GS may be used.
One rumor says that personalization may be in play as well, with switchable colored covers possibly being a simple way to entice consumers to get onto the Apple bandwagon. The International Business Times, citing iApps.im, posted some rumored pictures of the iPhone 5C, one of which is above.
One other tidbit of information that can change the game is finding out who gets to sell this cheaper iPhone first. CNET reports rumors that NTT Docomo of Japan and China Telecom are said to be the big players selling it. Chinese tech site Techweb reports that China Telecom took down a published post this week that pointed to the possibility of two new iPhone types being released.
On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal says that the cheaper iPhone may go to China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator with more than 700 million subscribers, instead.
Fingerprint scanners, iOS 7, and screen sizes
A couple of additional rumors round out the potentially juicy reveals for Apple’s upcoming event.
Currently seen by some as implausible, one rumor going around is that the iPhone 5S may get its own fingerprint scanner. Citing Nowhereelse.fr, which has leaked iPhone component information in the past, Mashable says there may now be space on the new iPhone for a fingerprint scanner.
What builds this rumor up are 2012 reports of Apple acquiring a mobile security company called AuthenTec, which owns patents for fingerprint sensors, sensor packaging, and the like. Combine the two ideas and add some extra food for thought about the iPhone home button being a sensor location, and fingerprint scanning security features for the iPhone seem crazily plausible all of a sudden.
The next big idea people are expecting is a launch window for iOS 7, which has been in developer beta for a while. Any new phone announced by Apple in the next few days is expected to get iOS 7 as its base operating system.
Unfortunately, there’s no timeline in place for a formal end user launch just yet, so people are hoping an iOS7 update is coming for iPhone users everywhere soon enough.
Two final rumors being thrown around are an iPhone that looks different from current iterations in terms of screen size and a luxurious color option for new iPhones.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is testing iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to 6 inches in size. This is likely in response to the growth of its competitors, which have a number of different phones sporting different screen sizes.
Apple may want to cut into that slice of the pie by providing a product that competes with differently-sized devices but has the Apple flair.
Lastly, new iPhones may get champagne gold or graphite-colored casings. This is in addition to the rumors of a budget iPhone having colored cases. Website imore.com was the first to break the report, which was corroborated by other sources. All Things D adds that, at least in the case of a gold iPhone, the gold tones are easy to anodize, making them easy to offer and are flashy to boot.
While the tech world prepares for Apple’s impending announcement, let’s step back and remember one thing: it’s not the specifications of the phone that counts, it’s how much it costs relative to how you intend to use it that matters.
Let’s all hope that, whatever Apple might announce in the next few days, it’ll be on target with our own personal budgets. – Rappler.com
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