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Trio of New iPhones Expected in September

By John P. Mello Jr.
Aug 28, 2018 5:00 AM PT
apple this fall will release three new iphone x-like models with improved features according to a report

Apple will release three new iPhones in September, according to Bloomberg -- the latest media outlet to publish information from unnamed knowledgeable sources about the company's plans.

Although all the phones will have edge-to-edge displays, like the iPhone X, only two will have OLED screens, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Some Apple insiders have been referring to 2018 as an "S" year, it said. That's a reference to a year when most of the significant changes affect the inside rather than the outside of the iPhone.

The new iPhone lineup marks a change in strategy for Apple, Bloomberg suggested. Instead of seeking to add users, Apple apparently plans to slowly increase the average prices of its phones and boost income from accessory and digital services sales.

"It is highly likely they will do three new phones," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in Campbell, California.

"They need new models with new features and new price points in order to keep growing the iPhone business," he told TechNewsWorld.

Whopping 6.5-Inch OLED

At the high end of the three iPhone models Bloomberg described will be a model with an edge-to-edge, 6.5-inch OLED display (measured diagonally), which would make it one of the largest phones on the market. Last year's iPhone X was Apple's first model with the high-quality screen, which has been in some competitors' products for some time.

The high-end model will have design features introduced in the iPhone X -- a glass back with stainless steel edges and dual cameras on the back -- and support viewing of app content side-by-side on the large display.

"I think the larger screen will be a big draw," said Tuong Nguyen, a senior principal analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory company based in Stamford, Connecticut.

"Apple has been traditionally lagging in terms of having large-screen offerings equivalent to what's offered by competitors," he told TechNewsWorld.

"I look at what happened with the 6 Plus as an indicator of demand for larger screens," he continued. "Apple saw a big jump in market share with that introduction."

Upgrading iPhone X

The new iPhone's dual app feature didn't score any points with Nguyen.

"I assume it's like the dual-screen functionality seen on Samsung and other devices," he said. "I've had access to this for years, but I haven't found it that compelling. I never use it."

Apple also is expected to release an upgrade of the current 5.8-inch iPhone X, with improvements in the processor and camera.

"Camera performance and quality is increasingly an issue that users care about," said Charles King, a Hayward, California-based principal analyst with Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm.

"If Apple can deliver the goods there, it stands a chance of getting more consumers on board with higher-priced handsets," he told TechNewsWorld. "That said, I don't see any game-changing improvements that would budge the needle much in terms of Apple's overall share. "

Attraction of X Technology

Expanding technology introduced in the iPhone X across the product line could prove to be popular with consumers.

"There were a good number of consumers who were compelled by the X design, but were unable to get it at its price point," Gartner's Nguyen said. "With the design cascading through the line, it'll become accessible for everyone considering replacing their iPhone."

However, the pricing on the OLED iPhones isn't likely to budge, with the 5.8-inch model likely to sell at US$999 and the 6.5 model likely to sell for even more.

"It's important to remember that most consumers today are buying their phones on installments," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm.

"You're paying more per month for a thousand dollar phone, but it's a small jump per month," he told TechNewsWorld.

Bringing Back Color

The third iPhone model expected to be introduced is a so-called budget model. It will have a 6.1-inch LCD display -- not state of the art OLED -- and aluminum edges instead of stainless steel. It will be offered in a variety of colors.

The colors of the aluminum edges won't necessarily be the same color as the glass back of the phone. Apple experimented with colors in 2013 with the iPhone 5c. The all plastic phone wasn't embraced with open arms by the market -- something Apple hopes to change this time around by using metal and glass construction on its budget model.

"While the 5c did OK in a few markets, the company didn't see fit to repeat the experiment until now," King noted. "Unless Apple has come up with significantly new finishes, I doubt that most consumers will be impressed."

Business Insider reported the budget model could sell for $550-$650.

As with the original iPhone X, the home button on the new phones will be replaced with a gesture-based control system. In addition, the new models all will use Face ID to unlock the phones.

The two OLED phones may contain dual SIM slots, at least for some regions. The feature will make it easier to switch between carriers when country hopping.

Just Another 'S' Year

From everything that's been reported so far about the new iPhones, King noted, the changes are typical of an "S" year cycle.

"Basically, Apple is making upgrades in performance and camera functions to entice users to buy into its higher pricing schema," he said. "The rumored LCD-based phones follow past company efforts to attract price-sensitive customers and markets to the Apple brand."

The new iPhone configuration will present Apple with a problem it hasn't faced since the iPhone X: coming up with appropriate names for the phones.

Having a smaller phone -- the 5.8-inch OLED model -- sell at a higher price than the larger LCD model may be confusing to consumers, the Bloomberg article suggested.

During development, the names for the phones reportedly have changed multiple times.

Whatever names Apple gives the phones and whatever the final products look like, chances are good they will be hits.

"Given consumer response in the past and their willingness to trust Apple's design decisions," Creative Strategies' Bajarin observed, "I expect whatever Apple brings out will be highly successful."

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government Security News. Email John.

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