Analysts are maintaining their predictions that Apple will launch a cheaper iPhone with a plastic casing and non-Retina display later this year, alongside a new model of its flagship smartphone, dubbed iPhone 5S or iPhone 6.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said in a note to investors on Friday that he has spoken to sources from inside Apple's supply chain who say that the company is preparing to launch "multiple new phones" in June or July, which will include an 'iPhone 5S' and a cheaper iPhone, dubbed iPhone mini.
"The low-end iPhone will have the same 4in form factor as the iPhone 5, but will have a plastic casing and a non-Retina display," he wrote. "With a lower price point, AAPL will be able to target a growing and important part of the smartphone market (sub-$400 price band)."
Daryanani expects that, while Apple's cheaper iPhone will carry lower gross margins than Apple's flagship handsets, it could bring Apple an additional $22 billion in revenue and more than $5 in earnings per share in 2014, adding a value of $50 to Apple's stock price. He thinks that Apple could sell about 500 million low-cost iPhones in 2014.
Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has again been forecasting Apple's product launch plans in an investors note released today, suggesting that a new iPhone will arrive in late June, and will sell four million units before the month is over.
Munster predicts Apple will sell 30 million iPhones in total during the June quarter, which would represent a 15 per cent increase compared to the year ago quarter.
Munster thinks the new iPhone will have a more powerful processor and an improved camera, as well as iOS 7 with some new features. He also thinks that there is an "outside chance" that we'll see the introduction of near field communications (NFC) capabilities too.
As for the rumoured fingerprint sensor, Munster predicts that Apple is planning to wait until the following iPhone before introducing such feature. Apple's acquisition of security technology maker AuthenTec in 2012 sparked speculation that Apple is working on integrating a fingerprint sensor into its iPhone to help make mobile payments via NFC more secure.
Munster predicts that Apple's low-cost iPhone will arrive at a later date than forecasted by Daryanani, possibly in the September quarter. He also expects Apple's rumoured television set to arrive this year, at some point in the December quarter, which will be followed by the announcement of a smartwatch, dubbed 'iWatch'.
While Munster doesn't expect the iWatch or television to generate much revenue for Apple, he does note that it could give the company's stock price a boost, and help remind customers of its innovative reputation.
"We believe investors have wondered if Apple can put out new and innovating products without Steve Jobs," said Munster. "We believe that ultimately, if Apple is viewed as a company that can innovate, the multiple will improve."
iPhone 6 rumours: Fingerprint sensor, NFC e-wallet set to feature in new iPhone iPhone 6 components to begin shipping by end of May iPhone 6 concept shows ultra-thin design with 'touch anywhere' Home button and 'iSight Pro' camera New iPhone 6 concept images show edge-to-edge screen, trackpad-like Home button