According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning the release of two new iPhones this summer. Kuo claims that Apple will release iOS 7 in June, followed by the iPhone 5S and a cheaper iPhone in July, both of which are expected to have fingerprint sensors, likely something similar to the fingerprint login feature on HP computers. This means that all of Apple’s iPhone related refreshes will be done by the end of the summer and the company will have introduced new features not seen in other smartphones.
This will leave time for Apple to release an updated iPad and iPod lineup in the fall. China Mobile and Apple are also reportedly working together to hash out a deal, which would add a TDD (time-division duplexing) version of the iPhone. TDD is the current standard used by China Mobile although there are several other versions out there as well.
We expect Apple will introduce its new iPhones and iOS7 in June, and start shipping the new iPhones (5S and low-cost model) in the FDD version in July. Both dates are earlier than last year’s roadmap. We attribute this to: (1) an effort to avoid repeating the fatal mistake of last year of the delayed iPhone 5 launch, which gave competitors room to grab market share; and (2) the new iPhones this year are mainly designed on the basis of the current iPhone 5, which suggests development time could be reduced.
Kuo also notes in his research report that both the cheaper iPhone and the iPhone 5S will have the ability to run LTE. This is not surprising when considering that Apple is looking to move away from 3G, moving its iPad lineup into LTE territory in recent months.
[W]e expect the product differentiation between iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 will be: (1) computing power, with iPhone 5S to run on the faster A7 application processor; (2) the camera, with iPhone 5S being equipped with Smart Flash, ensuring photo quality using white or yellow flash according to lighting conditions; (3) iPhone 5S will have a fingerprint chip under the Home button, improving security and usability; and (4) the low-cost iPhone 5 hybrid casing of fiberglass and plastic will make it lighter and slimmer than general plastic casing and easier to make in various colors. However, we still think it will be heavier than iPhone 5S, which will have an aluminum casing. Thus, even form factor will be an area of differentiation.
Kuo has a solid track record, having accurately reported on a number of Apple product releases and refreshes. His claims about a TDD iPhone and China Mobile are likely based on previous reports, considering that major sources such as WSJ and Bloomberg have also reported that this is likely.