Mobile Market Report Suggests Apple to Price Latest iPhones at $1,200 - Page 2

Cellular carriers in the U.S. have successfully conditioned consumers to focus on monthly cost rather than total cost and that means that buyers will only see their monthly payments on their bills, rather than a total price tag of $1,000 or more, said Menezes. In addition, many buyers will sell their used iPhones for reasonable prices and put that money toward down payments on new iPhones, effectively reducing their prices, he said.

"The math of course can be misleading, but given the cachet of the iPhone; the cachet of having the latest iPhone" and other factors, "I think there's a good chance Apple will have few problems moving the new devices even if it jacks up the price of a standard model." he said. "Don't underestimate the willingness of the cellular providers to tie the new iPhone into promotional pricing for their service plans, which in the mind of the consumer further distorts the 'true cost' perception."

Other analysts are not so sure about rumors of higher iPhone pricing working to Apple's advantage, though.

Jan Dawson, principal analyst with Jackdaw Research, told eWEEK that he is "very skeptical of the idea of a $1,200 iPhone and of the rationale behind it, which seems to be based entirely on temporary supply constraints."

He said he's also concerned that "any high-priced iPhone is going to be seen much the same way as the Apple Watch Edition, which was seen as a sign of elitism and being out of touch."

Instead, Dawson said he thinks it's far more likely that Apple will price the upcoming phones at a $100 to $150 price differential between the next Plus model and a premium model compared to existing iPhone 7 models. 

"Yes, there certainly are lots of people who could afford a $1,000 phone, and the monthly payment model makes it even easier, but I'm not sure Apple wants to separate its new high-end phone so much from the other models, especially without cost differences to justify the price differential," said Dawson.

Avi Greengart, a mobile phone analyst with research firm GlobalData, said commenting at this point is just "posturing and conjecture on top of unsubstantiated rumors," but he does view Apple's potential move in segmenting its iPhone line into regular and super-premium segments as a sound idea.

"Segmentation is sound business strategy" because it maximizes profits by selling higher margin things to people willing to pay more, said Greengart. "In Apple's case, creating a super-premium line also helps correct for the curse of its success—iPhones sell in such high quantities that Apple cannot adopt new technologies and materials that are not available in 200 million per year quantities."

At the same time, though, the move wouldn't be a slam dunk, Greengart said. "Apple is not a luxury brand for wealthy consumers," but is an "approachable luxury brand" for a wide group of consumers, he added.

"Its products are designed for mainstream consumers willing to pay a premium for a device with elevated design and performance in key areas with tightly integrated software and services. The one time that Apple tried to push into true luxury was the original Watch Edition. That was not a success and invited unwelcome ridicule."

Greengart said the real danger comes if segmentation means that consumers priced out of the super-premium product are not excited about buying the regular iPhone and as a result delay purchases of new phones, which "could be devastating to Apple's earnings."