Few people will debate that Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) product lineup is the most hyped and talked about in the tech world. The company’s flagship iPhone, in particular, is the subject of a flurry of rumors and speculations every time a new version of the smartphone nears its release date.
From anonymous insiders to industry analysts, a number of sources have contributed to the ever-growing rumor mill. At present, the hot topic of discussion is the upcoming iteration of the Apple smartphone, which some refer to as the iPhone 6, while others call it the iPhone 5S. A fraction of the tech world even thinks that Apple will launch a cheaper version of the device in a bid to cater to emerging markets like China and India.
Whatever the Cupertino-based tech giant has planned for the next-generation iPhone, rumor mongers will continue doing their job. While some of the speculations may be spot-on, the rest will remain rumors. The latest? A recent report states that this year’s iPhone is not going to carry a “6,” but a “5S” tag.
The report came from The Financial Post, citing Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who says that Apple will launch the iPhone 6 with a bigger display in June 2014 and will release an iPhone 5S this year.
Misek has added that Apple is getting the supply chain ready for the iPhone 6, but the device will take at least two or three quarters to develop and manufacture. The delay is due to the time required for making a transition in the handset’s display technology.
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Apart from the larger screen, Misek also believes that the iPhone 6 will feature new colors, a faster processor and a better camera than on previous versions of the smartphone. The device will also likely come with “a mobile payment platform using third-party clearing and Passbook as the base,” fingerprint scanning technology, near-field communication (NFC) and even barcode reading capability.
How authentic are Misek's predictions? According to Karsten Strauss of Forbes, “Misek’s reputation as a prophet in these matters is not exactly oracular. Still, some of his points here make sense.”
Strauss says that the widely rumored fingerprint reading technology “is not much of a stretch and would provide identity-verification features that could be a serious selling point for any new mobile device.” He even suggests that the feature could make its first appearance with the iPhone 5S this year.
If Misek is to be believed, the iPhone 6 in 2014 will sport a larger screen. Is Apple really going to do that? Company CEO Tim Cook reportedly said that “Apple will only launch a device with an inflated display when it would no longer be a case of accepting tradeoffs in the pursuit of that larger screen.”
However, as Redmond Pie has noted, “just because Cook does not feel the technology is right just yet, that does not mean that Apple has not been working on fixing the tradeoffs that are currently needed in order to make a large smartphone.”
The existing iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display, which is bigger than the previous models. It’s worth mentioning here that Apple did not increase the width of the phone, just the height. The company justified the modification by suggesting that the bigger phones are uncomfortable for users, according to Business Insider.
“By making the screen taller, but not wider, you can see more of your content, but still comfortably use it with one hand,” said Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, in the promotional video for the iPhone 5.
In another video, Apple tried to explain how a user can easily operate the iPhone 5 with the thumb.
Meanwhile, Misek’s report rates the Apple stock a hold with a price target of $420. Although the company’s earnings per share (EPS) touched $44.14 for fiscal 2012, the analyst "thinks that number could fall as low as US$27 in 2014 -- assuming flat iPhone sales, average sales prices decline 20% and overall gross margins dip to 31%.
“While improbable, these situations are not impossible if the 5S is received similarly to the 5, the iPhone 6 is costly, and the low-cost iPhone proves to be too high-priced,” The Financial Post quoted Misek as saying.
Apple faced a tough time in the beginning of 2013. According to the company’s earnings report for the first quarter of 2013, it earned $10.09 per share on revenues of $43.6 billion. On the other hand, in the first three months of last year, Apple earned $12.30 per share on revenues of $39.2 billion. Apple’s shares reportedly lost over 20 percent of their value in 2013 so far and almost 30 percent in the last 12 months.