Apple is about to hold ‘the most significant iPhone event in years’

On Tuesday, Apple is hosting a kick-off event to showcase this year's iPhone lineup.
For most years, Apple announces its iPhones in September and they go on sale shortly afterwards. This year is different. Instead, Apple released new Apple Watches last month and postponed the iPhone announcement to October. The delay is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted electronics manufacturing and forced most Apple employees to work from home.
Still, this year's iPhone launch matters. It is expected to have the first larger exterior design since 2017, when Apple released the iPhone X with facial recognition. This year's models will feature iPad-like edges with flatter sides compared to the gently curved sides of the current iPhones.
Apple is also expected to release four separate iPhones with different screen sizes and prices - a much wider range of devices than in the past.
Eventually, at least some new iPhones will support 5G cellular networks, which promise faster download times (although the US networks are not yet fully developed, which may disappoint some users).
The last time Apple made such big changes to the iPhone was in 2014 when the iPhone 6 came out with larger screens and two different sizes. This led to a major upgrade cycle - a so-called “super cycle” - with over 231 million iPhones sold in the next four quarters. This remained the annual sales record until Apple stopped reporting on sales in 2018.
This year, investors and analysts predict a major upgrade cycle that will make Apple an even more valuable company.
"We expect the fall launch to be the biggest iPhone event in years," Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note this week. She predicts that Apple will ship around 220 million iPhones in fiscal 2021, a 22% year-over-year increase according to the Morgan Stanley model.
Here's what to look out for on Tuesday.
Four iPhones, including a new iPhone Mini
Morgan Stanley analysts expect an iPhone lineup of 4 new devices including:
iPhone 12 Mini, a new device with a 5.4-inch screen. This would be the smallest iPhone since the full-screen versions debuted (with no spaces around the edges) in 2017 and will likely be about the size of the iPhone 6.
iPhone 12, the standard version with a 6.1-inch screen that is the same size as it is today.
iPhone 12 Pro, also with a 6.1-inch screen, but higher specifications.
Phone 12 Pro Max, which would have the largest screen ever at 6.7 inches (today's iPhone 11 Pro Max is the top at 6.5 inches)
Morgan Stanley's expectations are based on information from Apple's supply chain in China. This means that the actual names controlled by Apple product marketing in California may be different.
Four models would be a dramatic addition to the range, with both a new smaller option and a larger, high-end option that gives consumers more choices and potentially encourages people to upgrade.
The phones are expected to look different from the models seen in recent years, which gives users yet another reason to upgrade.
In the spring, Apple released a $ 399 4.7-inch iPhone with a fingerprint sensor, the second-generation iPhone SE. This spring is expected to remain the most affordable iPhone after launching on Tuesday.
"These 4 new models will accompany the second generation iPhone SE, which was launched in Spring 2020 and includes Apple's most comprehensive lineup of new iPhones ever," wrote Huberty.
Currently, Apple sells the iPhone 11 for $ 699 with a 6.1-inch screen, an iPhone 11 Pro for $ 999 with a 5.8-inch screen, and an iPhone 11 Pro Max for $ 1,099 with a 6.5 inch screen. Apple may continue to sell these models. Typically, $ 100 is deducted from the price of previous year's models and kept on store shelves.
Different types of 5G
Apple's tagline for the event is "Hi Speed," a reference to the faster cellular speeds that 5G phones promise.
Investors and analysts have been hoping for years that a 5G iPhone would be a major upgrade and spark a huge wave of sales not only for phone makers like Apple but also for chipmakers like Qualcomm and wireless carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile, betting big on 5G.
However, some industry leaders are cautious. For example, Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, told CNBC in September that he didn't think it would be a "massive event".
Some of the effects can be dull as there are three different strains of 5G.
The biggest leap in speed will come from the multitude of 5G, sometimes referred to as millimeter wave or ultrawide band. In the US, however, the millimeter wave is only available in certain markets and has limitations in terms of portability. While network operators are expanding rapidly, the new iPhones may only be able to develop their full potential in a few regions.
AT & T and T-Mobile both currently claim "nationwide 5G", whereby so-called low-band networks are used, the speeds of which are closer to the current fourth-generation LTE networks. This could overwhelm consumers who have been looking for a massive improvement.
Then there is the medium-band 5G, which is supposed to be significantly faster and cover large regions, but is still being developed. T-Mobile announced this summer that it was hoping to build its mid-band network "in the next few years".
"Not all 5G are created equal, which has led to marketing noise from network operators regarding the performance and delivery of 5G," wrote Gene Munster, founder of Loup Ventures, in a September newsletter. "Ultimately, both consumers and businesses are unsure of when the 5G transformation should take place."
Consumers won't know until Tuesday whether Apple supports all three versions in all of its phones, or whether it has different models sold in different regions, depending on which countries have the most developed 5G networks.
Sales start later than usual
Apple CFO Luca Maestri said this summer that iPhones are expected to go on sale "a few weeks later" than the traditional September launch schedule.
It is possible that some models will hit stores shortly after the event, while others will take longer to hit shelves. This is most likely due to the challenges of designing and manufacturing tens of million devices during a global pandemic. Last year, ten days passed between the launch event and the first iPhones to go on sale.
"It remains somewhat speculative when exactly iPhones will go on sale after this event, as Apple normally announces the first day of sales during the event," wrote Jeriel Ong, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, in a note last week.
Timing is important to investors as Apple’s fiscal first quarter has already started and will begin on September 27th. In the past few years, some new iPhone models have been on sale for the entire period, but this year it won't be possible.
The number of weeks in the quarter that the new iPhones go on sale could affect Apple's performance in the critical holiday quarter as people around the world buy iPhones and other products as Christmas gifts.
IPhone timing can also suggest which models may be in short supply and which investors are closely watching to predict average sales prices for the quarter, which will affect sales.
We also note that it is possible that certain models are either more limited in volume or that the new iPhone launch is staggered similarly to previous years, although that possibility seems to be fading as we become less aware of the potential have heard for further delays recently, ”Ong wrote.
One more thing (or event)
The invitation to Apple's event stipulates that it will last two hours. This is a lot of time to discuss phones. In the past, the company loved teasing "something else" at the end of their events before launching a whole new product category.
This year they are likely to be audio products. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted earlier this year that Apple was working on its own branded over-the-ear wireless headphones (instead of Beats) and a smaller and cheaper HomePod speaker - the current version costs $ 299 Dollar.
Luxury headphones might attract buyers who have been turned off by the in-ear nature of Apple's current AirPods but want closer wireless integration with the iPhone.
A cheaper HomePod would make the product category more competitive than Amazon's Alexa speakers, which often cost less than $ 100.
To add more credibility to this possibility, Apple stopped selling third-party headphones and speakers on its online store earlier this month. This reflects the steps taken in the past few years before new products were launched.
Apple said earlier this year that Mac computers with chips it developed will ship before the end of the year. Current Mac computers use Intel chips. These computers are unlikely to be discussed Tuesday, according to a report from Bloomberg. Instead, Apple could save this product for a launch event in November that would be Apple's third fall event.
In the past few years, Apple has only hosted a fall launch event or two. This year's launches are different, however - they are being recorded and practically held due to the pandemic. Customers, media and fans continue to have an appetite for Apple product launches. Almost 1.5 million people watched a YouTube livestream last month to see Apple executives announce new Apple Watches.

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