iPhone 5S, C launch: Big-screen, small price... or will Apple bite into phablets?

Latest buzz claims Apple Cupertino-based firm is already working on a phablet-sized device

In less than 24 hours Apple is set to announce two new smartphones, including a budget version of its iPhone.

A series of almost credible leaks have already given the world an idea of what to expect at tonight’s announcement – with a fingerprint sensor embedded into the home button being the key upgrade in the latest edition of the iPhone.

However, according to the latest buzz on the internet, Apple is to come out with models with various screen sizes and the Cupertino-based firm is already working on a phablet-sized device.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal,  the company is evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as big as 6 inches.

Quoting people familiar with the matter and with inputs from component suppliers the report adds that tests are already underway for a 4.8-inch screen.

This set the rumour mill going and tech blogs and sites were soon abuzz with rumours that Apple might even launch tonight’s iPhone 5S (or 6) with a 4.8 inch screen.

It took Apple several years of deliberations to finally come out with a smaller form of its popular iPad.

Amid intense competition and growing popularity of Samsung Galaxy series of Tabs which range from 7-inch to 8.9-inch, Apple in 2012 launched its 7.9-inch iPad mini.

The iPad mini was a major success and today, sells more than the traditional iPad.

New, new, new

Forrester analyst Charles Golvin told AFP the consensus is for Apple to unveil a new high-end phone, "most likely called the 5S, with the same look and feel physically but with a speed boost; new processor, and new graphics capabilities".

A lower-cost iPhone has been dubbed the 5C, "because it would come in multiple colors analogous to today's iPod touch", Golvin said.

Speculation about the iPhone 5S included the debut of gold colour and fingerprint recognition for enhanced security.

"For most part, we view the iPhone5S as an evolution of the iPhone5 and as such do not view it as especially innovative," Citi Research said in a note to investors on Monday.

"However, with the inclusion of a fingerprint reader, Apple opens itself up to new opportunities, most notably mobile payments."

At the heart of any iPhone announcements on Tuesday would be a dramatic overhaul to the iOS software powering Apple handsets.

New iOS 7 software will debut with a free iTunes Radio Service featuring more than 200 stations "and an incredible catalog of music from the iTunes Store," Apple announced earlier this year.

The streaming radio service is part of what Apple chief Tim Cook branded the biggest change to iOS - Apple's mobile operating system - since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

Price war

Analysts believe a special event at Apple's headquarters in Silicon Valley will spotlight a more economical iPhone priced to compete in emerging markets where money is tight, along with a beefed-up top-end model.

"The key challenge for Apple this week is to demonstrate that it can maintain momentum in overall iPhone sales, and to do so in a way which won't drive down margins significantly," said Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson.

"It's key for Apple to be able to find ways to drive growth at a higher rate again, and getting China's biggest carrier on board and launching a cheaper version of the iPhone are both key to doing that."

Wall Street darling

Apple became a Wall Street darling by pairing blistering sales of culture-changing gadgets such as iPods, iPhones, and iPads with enviable "margins," the difference between cost and price.

Apple shares were up nearly two per cent to $506.17 at the close of the trading day on the Nasdaq exchange.

Apple has also invited press to a Wednesday event in Beijing that analysts believe signals a deal to add iPhones to China Mobile's massive telecom network in that country.

The smartphone market is now dominated by Android devices, with roughly three-fourths of all handsets, but a forecast by research firm IDC suggested Apple will increase its share this year to 17.9 per cent from 16.9 per cent.

It remained unknown how low a price Apple would be able to hit with the 5C.

Gartner estimates that mobile phones priced $300 or more accounted for only 13.7 per cent of overall phone sales last year, according to Citi.

Analysts were keenly focused on the promise of a 5C to win over buyers in China and other developing markets, where there is fierce competition from low-priced smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system.

FBN Securities on Monday predicted that launching two new iPhones would reverse gains made by Android-powered rivals in the market.









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