It’s September again, and it’s time for new Apple stuff. In less than 24 hours, Apple is holding its September Media event. Although Tim Cook said he would double down on secrecy, plenty of rumors are around lately.
The first rumor is the iPhone 5C, a supposedly cheaper plastic iPhone. In the beginning, I thought it would be unlikely for Apple to go this route. Apple is known for higher margin products. Even if they would introduce a “cheaper” iPhone, it would be cheaper only by Apple’s standard. Right now Apple’s cheapest iPhone is the 3-year-old iPhone 4, 8GB for $450 unlocked. Not really “cheap” considering plenty of Android phones with more up-to-date hardware being sold less than that. And don’t forget the recently discounted, $250 16GB Nexus 4.
However, we are seeing more and more photos of it. From the colorful plastic backs, the plastic packaging it would come with, to fully assembled ones in their boxes, the manual, and videos of one being used. The rumor is that it would be the same hardware as the current iPhone 5 (ie. running the A6), but with the colorful plastic back instead of the more premium aluminum/glass back.
My previous prediction was that Apple was going to simply repackage the iPhone 4S into something using the lightning connector and 4″ taller screen, thus homogenizing the lineup. In other words, the 5th gen iPod Touch with a phone in it, and Apple would just call it the iPhone. However, the over abundance leaks of the colored iPhone 5C made me think that Apple is really going to do the iPhone 5C, using the same iPhone 5 internals in the cheaper plastic housing. The question remains, how much Apple is going to charge for it. Clearly it would go into the “free with contract” slot. My guess is it would be $399 for 16GB. Some rumors are saying that it would hit the $200 price point, especially with the recent price cut of the Nexus 4. I doubt it would be in the $200 price range. It makes no sense as Apple is selling the iPod Touch for more than that. Apple is not going to just jump into the bottom barrel. $399 might be expensive compared to the Nexus 4, but it is very cheap for Apple’s standard, especially considering the iPhone 5-level hardware, a year old, instead of having a 2-year-old hardware.
The next rumor that doesn’t have as much leaks is the iPhone 5S. The rumors are double LED flash and fingerprint sensor on its home button, while maintaining the same design and form as the current iPhone 5. It is also predicted that it would have an A7 processor. Other than those, not much else. I have doubts on the fingerprint sensor. I mean unless Apple can really pull a foolproof one and integrate it into a lot of things (app store, passbook, etc), it sounds too much of a gimmick.
And, that’s about it. So there will be the iPhone 5C at the low end, free with contract, $399 without. Then the current iPhone 5 will be at the current 4S’ price point, $99 with contract, $499 without. And then the iPhone 5S, $199 with contract, $599 without. I assume we will see a $50 price drop across the board for the unsubsidized pricing, just to make them round. 😀 As for capacity, It’s safe to assume the 5C and middle 5 will be 16GB. There are rumors that the 5S will have 128GB model, which makes some sense. If there’s not much “wow” factor, putting 32GB as the starting model will be a good attractor. Looking at the 32GB GPE HTC One price, it seems in line. So presumably the iPhone 5S will come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.
So, to recap my prediction:
- iPhone 5C, 16GB, in colors, free on contract, $399 unsubsidized.
- iPhone 5, 16GB, $99 on contract, $499 unsubsidized.
- iPhone 5S, 32GB starting at $199 on contract, $599 unsubsidized. Add $100 for double the storage up to 128GB.
That’s for the iPhone. Now the iPad. Not much rumors as it is predictable. The regular iPad will carry the design language of the iPad mini, making it slimmer and more compact. Everything else should be predictable too, A7X, and same price points as current lineup. The question is whether Apple would start at 32GB. Currently, Apple does have a 128GB iPad, but it’s $799 for the wifi only model. You can get a laptop for that price, and the LTE model is priced at $929, only a few bucks less than a Macbook Air! I can see Apple pushing the price down just to create a better gap. I do wish the LTE versions would be priced less.
What will happen to the iPad 2? The iPad 2 is in a weird position, being two models behind, yet it’s still on sale, with the iPad 3 being discontinued. It’s definitely on its way out as it still has the old dock connector. I’m going to guess the current iPad filling in that spot, 16GB wifi for $399. Now the regular iPads are all retina and have lightning connector.
The wild card is the iPad mini, and whether Apple can put a retina display on it. This was the big disappointment I had with the original iPad mini, which was basically a smaller iPad 2, carrying the same A5 processor and 1024×768 resolution screen. It has lower ppi than even the original Nexus 7. Now Google already released the new Nexus 7 with an even higher resolution screen, and Google just released the 32GB LTE model for $349. Although Apple still has the huge advantage of the iPad brand, it just won’t look great if the next iPad mini doesn’t have a retina display. There are arguments against it as the retina display will require more battery, and Apple does not usually make the newer product thicker than the older one. But I think Appe might be able to pull it off. I hope we will see a retina iPad mini with the A6X in it, starting at 16GB wifi at $299. The current iPad mini starts at $329, and I think it was intentional so Apple can then put the $299 price and spin it as a great price drop.
Another theory is, considering the retina screen yield, Apple might keep the current iPad mini (just like the iPad 2), drop its price to $249 or something, and then replace the next price up at $349 with the retina mini, thus keeping a good margin on the retina version. This might be a more likelihood scenario. Apple did this also with the iPod Touch.
So, my prediction on the iPad/iPad mini:
- iPad 5: 32GB wifi, $499. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.
- Current iPad 4: 16GB wifi, $399. Add $130 for LTE.
- Current iPad mini, 16GB wifi, $249. Add $130 for LTE
- Retina iPad mini, 32GB wifi, $349. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.
On September events, Apple usually announce new iPods too. There is literally zero rumors on the iPods as the hot stuff is the iPhone. I doubt Apple would do anything either. They are pretty much the only player left in the portable music player market. All I can see is a price drop on the no-camera iPod Touch to $199, thus Apple spinning it as the most affordable iOS device ever. And maybe also a $50 price drop on the 32GB and 64GB model, allowing a greater distinction in price with the iPhone 5C. On the other hand, if Apple could make the iPhone 5C, maybe they would put the A6 into the new iPod Touch, thus justifying the price as it has the same internals as the iPhone.
My prediction on iPods:
- Current camera-less 16GB iPod Touch: $199.
- New iPod Touch with A6 and better camera, starting at 32GB at $299, and 64GB at $399.
- All other iPods remain the same, and the iPod Classic remains.
Of course, we will see more regurgitation about iOS7, how it is the greatest thing since the original iPhone OS, again. 😀 Apple TV? The rumor is just a software update. I mean what else do people expect from an Apple TV? It can already play 1080p video. We probably won’t see a real update until we have 4K videos. And the recent PS Vita TV by Sony? Well, Apple already have Airplay mirroring so iOS games can already be played on the big screen.
Due to the rumors, seems like it won’t be an exciting event. I hope Apple has something under their sleeve, Tim Cook’s double down on secrecy.
We’ll find out in less than 24 hours. I’ll be following Engadget’s live blogging of the event.