For many Apple observers, 2018 is looking like it’s going to be what’s called an “S” year. This means that the new iPhone X models will be called XS, and the upgrades will be relatively minor, focusing on things such as faster processors.
But there will still be changes in the iPhone lineup, including a larger version of the iPhone X dubbed the XS, and a new less-expensive iPhone that has many of the features associated with the iPhone X. Expect to see the new iPhones introduced during the second week of September, probably on Sept. 12.
Instead, the big changes will show up in other parts of Apple’s product line. Apple will update the Mac Mini, four years after the most recent upgrade with new processor choices, new storage options and possibly new pricing.
The iPad Pro is also expected to gets some long overdue enhancements according to according to an investor note published by Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, who is reputed to be one of the more accurate Apple market analysts.
There will be a new 11-inch iPad Pro that will replace the 10.5-inch version along with a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There will also be a new low-cost notebook to replace the MacBook Air, but with a different name. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s going to be called simply the “MacBook” in keeping with Apple’s recent minimalist approach to product naming.
The new, less expensive, iPhone will have a slightly larger screen than the current iPhone X, but it will have an LCD screen instead of the iPhone X’s OLED screen.
However, unlike the existing iPhone 8 and earlier versions, it will do away with the home button and the integrated fingerprint reader in favor of Apple’s Face ID. The stainless steel frame of the iPhone X will be replaced by aluminum and the new iPhones will come in a variety of colors.
The pricing on the new iPhone isn’t known, but according to a variety of sources, it will be substantially lower than the existing iPhone X, and even more so compared to the even larger iPhone XS Plus that Apple is expected announce. That Plus version of the iPhone XS will have a huge 6.5-inch screen while new LCD version will have a 6.1-inch screen. The iPhone XS will stay the same size as the current iPhone X.
The new LCD iPhone may be called the iPhone 9, although there’s no real consensus to that. However, that name is consistent with Apple’s recent naming practices. Also consistent with Apple’s current marketing practices, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will like remain in stores, but the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be dropped.
The new LCD iPhone will be a full-screen version, complete with the notch at the top. The large screen and the lower price, along with the easier serviceability of an LCD screen should make the new iPhone (9?) attractive in the enterprise. The fact that the frame is aluminum instead of stainless steel should not impact its use in business, nor should the LCD screen. It’s not clear whether the new iPhone will have dual cameras, but that’s unlikely to be a major issue for most users.
It’s worth noting that Apple’s apparent motivation for producing an iPhone with a larger screen at a lower price was twofold. First, the iPhone X, with a price tag that started at a thousand dollars, did not sell as well as analysts had hoped, which should be no surprise.
Apparently there’s a significant market for phones outside the U.S. where that price tag made the iPhone X unaffordable for may overseas buyers where Samsung Android phones are popular alternatives. If Apple is going to compete with Samsung on those markets, it needs a competitively-priced iPhone.
There’s no indication that the new iPad Pro models will be priced any lower than they are now, but there will be feature changes. Both will have Face ID instead of the home button with the integrated fingerprint reader. The 11-inch iPad Pro is apparently the result of thinner bezels in the existing 10.5-inch iPad case. This would keep it the same physical size of the 9.7-inch iPad.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro may also have a smaller case, which would be welcome, due to thinner bezels and the elimination of the home button. Both iPads are expected to get faster processors and other hardware upgrades.
Finally, there’s the Mac. Bloomberg is reporting that Macintosh sales for the third quarter of this year were the lowest since 2010. This sales slump is due to several factors, including a shrinking educational market, where Chromebooks are strong, and slower sales in professional market where Apple’s hardware hasn’t been meeting requirements and Microsoft has been pressing hard.
To this end, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple will offer processor and other hardware upgrades to the iMac and other Macintosh computers along with significant upgrades to the Mac Mini. But higher prices will likely come along with the improved hardware. Because the Mac Mini ships without a screen, keyboard or mouse, it’s popular in industrial applications as well as in the enterprise where space is at a premium.
Unfortunately, there’s no word for MacBook users whether Apple will provide a replacement for that machine’s dreadful keyboard or a touchscreen, but that probably means that neither will happen.
Of course there will be upgrades to other Apple products, but for business users, the ones that matter are improvements in performance, usability and security that seem to be in the works. And a lower cost iPhone won’t be a bad thing, either.