updated 03:40 pm EDT, Tue September 27, 2011
Voice tech, speed seen as main additions
Apple will probably not introduce a second new iPhone alongside a normal flagship model at next week's press event, two analyst memos say. "We expect Apple to continue with a lead device (iPhone 5) that carriers sell subsidized for $199/$299 along with a previous generation device (iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S) for $99," says Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. His view conflicts with some recent evidence and a Deutsche Bank memo suggesting a 4S that could sell for between $300 and $350 unlocked, about half what Apple normally charges for an unlocked iPhone.
UBS analyst Maynard Um doesn't mention a cheaper iPhone at all, referring only to an iPhone 5. "We believe a refreshed iPhone 5 will boast enough physical improvements to drive another strong adoption cycle," he says. "Although screen resolution should remain the same, we expect an improved front/back camera resolution, faster network technology, a faster A5 processor, improved graphics performance, and potentially thinner/lighter form factor."
Munster argues that a phrase Apple uses in its press invite, "let's talk iPhone," may be a veiled reference to the voice command technology known to be contained in iOS 5.
Both analysts are anticipating that "pent up demand" will help iPhone sales. While Um simply observes that a new iPhone is coming 16 months after the last refresh instead of a normal 12, Munster focuses on Verizon. Many Verizon customers able to buy an iPhone 4 may be choosing to wait for the next model instead, since the 4 wasn't new when it came to the carrier, Munster remarks. To back up the statement, he points to an August Piper Jaffray survey indicating that 74 percent of potential Verizon iPhone buyers are waiting for new hardware.