iPhone 5 Launch Preceded by Price Cuts on Older Models

Apple quietly decides to match price discounts offered by retailers on older iPhone models in anticipation of the iPhone 5.

As the expected launch date of Apple's latest version of the iPhone-unofficially referred to as the iPhone 5-approaches, Apple has taken the step of offering to match retailer discounts on older models, including the iPhone 4 and 4S handsets, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. While Apple has not officially acknowledged the deal, two unnamed sources interviewed in the report said Apple would match lower prices cited by customers from retail outlets, including Best Buy, Target and Sprint. The information was first picked up by the Apple-centric blog MacRumors.

According to the report, upon customer request, Apple will offer a $49.01 discount on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 models, which would bring pricing to $349.99, $249.99 or $149.99 for the iPhone 4S, and $49.99 for the iPhone 4. The report rekindled rumors that the launch date for the iPhone 5 is fast approaching, with the most recently cited date of Sept. 12, and that the handset will debut as part of a special press event by Apple. The company's discounting decision follows Sprint's announcement earlier this week that it was reducing the price of its iPhones by $50.

Apple sold 26 million iPhones in the third fiscal quarter, down from the previous quarter, which Apple chalked up to fewer sales in light of anticipation for the new model, though market analysts noted increased competition from Google Android smartphones, particularly those from Samsung, currently the market leader in handset sales, may be putting a dent in iPhone sales.

According to a report in Apple Insider, comments from Apple's iPhone parts suppliers suggest the company is gearing up for its biggest-ever product launch, according to a research note the tech blog obtained from Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White. Preliminary sales in July jumped 14 percent month-over-month. "This July represents the strongest month-over-month sales growth of any July we have on record over the past eight years for the Apple Monitor," White was quoted as saying. "[It] was well above the 7 percent growth experienced last July, supporting our view of an earlier launch of the iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4S last October."

This week, purported photos of the new iPhone's battery pack, which appear to offer a capacity of 1,440 milliamp-hours (mAh), higher than the 1,430mAh found on the iPhone 4S battery, added more grist to the iPhone 5 rumor mill. The photos, posted on Apple blog 9to5Mac, also suggest increase voltage capacity and a higher watts-per-hour (wHr) measurement.