That Apple is planning to refresh the iPhone 5 and launch a cheaper, unlocked, colorful iPhone 5 is being reported by yet another analyst.
Apple will introduce two new iPhones this summer, one of which is likely to be a less-expensive model, according to a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the latest industry insider to forecast the news.
Kuo expects Apple to introduce a redesigned iPhone 5 and an iPhone 5S in June or July, according to a report received by MacRumors
. The iPhone 5S is expected to feature an upgrade to an A7 system-on-a-chip, a fingerprint sensor and camera improvements, such as an f2.0 aperture and a smart LED flash.
The new iPhone 5 (why not call it something else?) may swap its glass-and-aluminum exterior for a slightly thicker but less expensive plastic exterior, which will be available in six color options. It's expected to weigh 130 grams compared with the 112 grams of the current iPhone 5, and to be available unlocked (contract free) for between $350 and $450. The current unlocked iPhone 5 has a starting price of $600.
A month ahead of Kuo's report, Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley likewise said his firm believes Apple is working on a refresh of the iPhone 5 and a more mid-tier device it would introduce alongside it.
The mid-tier device, he said, would be geared toward international prepaid markets.
"We believe Apple is in the early stages of testing prepaid-oriented international channels for potential future iPhone launches," Walkley wrote in the Dec. 16, 2012, note. "In fact, we believe Apple can generate strong iPhone sales growth in large underpenetrated markets such as Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia over the next several years."
Such moves would seem to make good sense. The prepaid market is a fast-growing one that has the attention of all major wireless players
, and analysts have said that in developed regions, the smartphone market is growing saturated. It's been reported that Apple recently halved its iPhone 5 component orders with suppliers
, suggesting that consumer iPhone fervor isn't what it used to be.
In his report, Kuo included predictions for Apple's other device lines as well. He expects the iPad Mini to receive a Retina display and the full-size iPad to be further slimmed down and feature a thinner side bezel, as on the Mini.
Apple will stop making a MacBook Pro without a Retina display and will lower the price of its Retina-featuring models. In addition, Kuo anticipates that Apple will update the designs of these laptops as well—a good guess.
The MacBook Air is expected to be updated with Intel's upcoming Core "Haswell" platform as soon as late in the second quarter. Haswell is also likely to make it into new iMac and Mac units, wrote Kuo, though don't count on Retina displays in these machines.
The fourth-generation iPod Touch will likely be discontinued, while Apple introduces a scaled-back fifth-generation model with no camera and 8GB of storage for $199. And finally, Kuo sees Apple refreshing Apple TV late in the first quarter, but that it will hold off on a "more substantial television effort" until possibly 2014.
Other analysts have suggested that an Apple television could arrive as soon as the first quarter of 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called televisions
an "area of intense interest" to Apple.