With the next generation Apple iPhone, unofficially dubbed the iPhone 5, being a no show at the WWDC 2012 last week, the possibilities of a fall release for the flagship smartphone are getting stronger day by day, most probably October if Apple follows the iPhone 4S release time frame.
Although there has not been any official word from Apple about the device's features, the Cupertino-based tech giant is highly expected to incorporate significant modifications to the handset to attract customers in a bid to get the top spot in the smartphone industry back from its arch rival Samsung.
The device has already created much hype around the tech world months before its expected release. But according to Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves, high expectations related to iPhone 5 among Apple fans all around the world could cause a larger-than-expected pause in buying iPhones ahead of the device's release later this year.
Based on new information obtained from sources within Apple's supply chain, Hargreaves cut his June quarter (Q3) iPhone shipment estimate to 25.4 million units from 27.2 million units and for the September quarter (Q4), he went down to 22.2 million units from 25.9 million units.
However, Hargreaves still believed that there would be extraordinary demand for Apple products through fiscal 2013. According to him, the iPhone-maker is likely to be supply constrained on iPhone 5 for the first several months after launch, which will likely make Apple's ability to ramp supply the key driver of FY 2013 earnings, Forbes reported.
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Hargreaves cut his EPS (Earnings Per Share) forecast to $45.35 a share, from $46.71 for the September 2012 fiscal year. On the other hand, for fiscal year 2013, his forecast rose a little to $53 from $52.84. His FY 2012 revenue forecast now stands at $154.23 billion, down from $157.05 billion, while for FY 2013, his revenue forecast increased to $179.53 billion from $177.99 million.
Though Hargreaves continued to recommend Apple shares as Outperform, he added that investors' return expectations should be moderated by the likelihood for slowing replacement cycles, weak macroeconomic conditions and increasing saturation in developed markets through FY 2013.
Apple (AAPL) shares Tuesday closed $1.63 or 0.3 percent up at $587.41.
The Ever-Elusive iPad Mini
Apart from his iPhone 5-related estimates, Hargreaves also expected Apple to launch a 7.85-inch iPad in October. According to him, Apple is apparently shifting component order volume heavily toward the smaller iPad, which suggests a strong focus on the device into the holidays.
Earlier this month, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said that the sixth-gen iPhone could be accompanied by a smaller iPad mini. However, he cited sources in the Taiwanese supply chain as saying that the handset could be released as early as September rather than October, as widely rumored.
Many recent reports suggested that Apple currently has a 7.85-inch iPad in its labs, which could feature the same 1,024 x 768 pixel screen resolution as the first-generation iPad and iPad 2.
In April, technology news website TechnoBuffalo cited John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who revealed during a 5by5 podcast with Dan Benjamin that Apple was not only mulling over a smaller version of iPad, but also had a 7.85-inch iPad in its labs.
When it comes to iPhone 5, the features that are most likely to be incorporated in the upcoming handset include a 4-inch Retina display, an A5X Variant chip, 1GB RAM, iOS 6, 4G LTE technology, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, improved Siri, liquidmetal casing, an 8 megapixel (or even higher) rear camera, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting and a much-improved battery life.