As tech enthusiasts and Apple fans are eagerly awaiting iPhone 5 that is expected to come in October, a Wall Street analyst expects the next iteration of the iPhone to start selling in China as early as December.
Following the first day of our trip to Asia where we met with leaders in the PC, mobile and Chinese distribution markets, the companies we visited were optimistic about Apple's product portfolio including the growth potential of the iPhone within the Chinese smartphone market, said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital.
Growth in smartphones and 3G subscribers should bode well for Apple as the company has a lot of room for international expansion with more carriers, especially in China, he said.
He believes that the 3G market in China remains under-penetrated given the 900 million subs in the region which should enhance Apple's prospects in the region.
His checks show that iPhone sales are stable and still growing despite an almost imminent new product cycle. He believes a new iPhone 5 can sell in China as early as December which could significantly accelerate sales.
We expect Apple to upgrade the iPhone in October but we wouldn't be surprised if the iPhone 4 remained in the lineup at lower price points to fend off competition from lower priced Android phones, said Reitzes.
In addition, Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, said that as the new iPhone in October will most likely be called the iPhone 5, the LTE iPhone will likely be named the iPhone 5S and will be launched in summer 2012 (though it could come earlier).
Misek expects the iPhone 5 to be available on all four major U.S. carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- in October. In addition, China Telecom would get the iPhone in the calendar first quarter of 2012 and China Mobile was likely to get in 2013/2014, he said.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 is anticipated to boast of significant hardware and software upgrades, along with an 8-megapixel dual-LED flash camera and A5 dual-core processor found in the iPad 2, to give stiff competition to other dual-core smartphones found in the market today.
Apple Inc. is expected boost the speed of its A5 chip in the range of 1.2 or 1.5 GHz with 1GB RAM. The iPhone 5 is also rumored to feature iCloud, which will store photos, apps, calendars and documents, instead of the phone's memory storage.
Apple is rumored to be increasing the screen size of iPhone 5 to compete with Android smartphones, probably going for a 4-inch screen, compared to the current iPhone 4's of 3.5- inch screen.
The smartphone will also feature Apple's iOS 5 and wireless syncing. Adding to the rumor mill, it seems that the UK carrier Vodafone could have accidentally leaked information about storage capacity and color for the next iPhone.
In a product listing for the Vodafone Sure Signal on its website, it implied that the iPhone 5 will be available in both black and white, with capacities of 16GB and 32GB. The listing can possibly be a typo. But it did mention four iPhone 5 models, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and even the iPhone 3G, which was first released in 2008, Apple Insider reported.