Data is increasingly pointing to two releases of the iPhone 5, Apple's next-generation smartphone, if Wall Street is to be believed, meaning one phone would come in the fourth quarter, and one shortly after.
The first one is set to come within a few months, analysts predict, but there is one glaring missing feature -- 4G high-speed network access. This should come early next year,
"[W]e continue to pick up indication that it will not likely incorporate 4G LTE due to battery life issues and spotty network coverage," said Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu. "And ironically, if anyone is in a position to fix these weaknesses, it would be AAPL.."
But there is still plenty of reason to pick up the iPhone 5 when it comes later this year however, he contends.
"Well, it turns out that we are picking up that this 'interim' iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected," said Wu, referring to chatter he's detected from supply chain "checks."
He writes that in addition to a dual-core microprocessor, the next iPhone could sport "a slightly larger display," largely ignoring the other rumors of the device being razor thin or particularly wider.
Whether everyone buys in immediately, or waits for the upgrade later, Wall Street is anticipating enough interest to boost Apple's numbers this year.
BMO Capital Markets's Keith Bachman raised his outlook price target to $465 from $450 on higher estimates for Apple's sales of the iPhone.
The analyst expects "continued strength" for Apple in smartphones, with more carrier relationships and share gains in CDMA phones this fall, once the next version comes out of the iPhone, which he dubs the "iPhone 4S."
Bachman notes that Apple should increase its iPhone sales this year by 1.5 times the rate of growth of the smartphone market because it is still signing up new carrier partners.
Apple has already out sold and out profited smartphone rivals in the second quarter this year using phones it introduced at least a year ago.
Research firm IDC said Apple sold over 20 million units in Q2, with Samsung coming in at No.2 with 19 million.