Smartphone sales of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005935) have reportedly been affected in China as the country’s handset manufacturers are said to be performing well in their home turf. But an analyst said that Chinese carriers are optimistic about the next-generation iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 6, which is widely rumored to feature a larger display.
Chinese smartphone makers, such as Lenovo Group Limited (HKG:0992), Huawei, ZTE Corporation (SHE:000063), Coolpad Group Ltd. (HKG:2369) and Xiaomi, have seen recent momentum in China, while some of the country’s carriers are disappointed about the consumer demand for the iPhone 5s. However, the carriers believe that consumers may be holding out for the iPhone 6, which is likely to feature a screen size of nearly 5 inches, Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a note obtained by AppleInsider.
“That said, we heard great enthusiasm around the potential for Apple to introduce a larger iPhone form factor in China this year with the iPhone 6,” White wrote. “In our view, the iPhone 6 with a larger screen (e.g., 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch) has the potential to meaningfully accelerate Apple's growth trajectory in China during [the second half of 2014]. We have not heard this type of excitement in China around the iPhone in at least two years and thus believe this could be a very special iPhone launch for Apple.”
White rated the Apple stock a buy and offered a $777 price target on the company’s shares.
Apple launched its flagship smartphone on China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest carrier, earlier this year, and while the iPhone reportedly helped to drive adoption of the carrier’s new 4G network, the company did not reveal its actual sales figures.
“We added 1.34 million new 4G users in February and most of them are iPhone users. We are happy with the progress as we are still building our 4G network and the coverage is only available in some major cities,” Xi Gouhua, chairman of China Mobile, told The Wall Street Journal.
While China’s smartphone market is dominated by low-cost devices, targeted at price-conscious consumers, Apple’s iPhone accounted for nearly 80 percent of the country’s premium smartphone market.
iPhone 6: What The Rumor Mill Says
According to various rumors, the iPhone 6 is expected to be released sometime in September of October, followed by another bigger-screen version of the handset later.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Apple’s suppliers were set to begin mass production of the bigger iPhone 6 displays beginning in May, targeting an autumn launch for the device. The report also said that a 4.7-inch version of the new iPhone would be produced first, while the larger phone with a 5.5-inch screen could be delayed.
As for the form factor, rumors have it that the iPhone 6 is likely to be thinner that the iPhone 5s. According to Sonny Dickson, an Australian blogger known for his cutting-edge information from the technology industry, the next iPhone could be 0.22 inches thick, compared to the 0.30 inches thickness of the existing iPhone 5s.
The iPhone 6 is also rumored to come with an improved Retina screen, which could have a pixel density of 389 ppi. If the device features a 4.7-inch display as suggested by multiple media reports so far, obtaining the 389 ppi density would require the resolution to be higher than 720p (1280x720), but lower than 1080p (1920x1080), Phone Arena reported.
Other rumored features of the iPhone 6 include a faster A8 processor (2.6GHz), an improved 8-megapixel camera, sapphire cover glass, three new sensors and iOS 8.