Apple is expected to launch a smaller, cheaper iPhone on Monday, in a bid to capture more customers hoping for a moderately-priced smartphone – a market that’s been increasingly dominated by devices running Google’s Android.
The new phone – expected to be called the iPhone SE – could help the company gain more users in emerging markets outside the US such as China.
“This is an enormous opportunity,” chief executive Tim Cook told investors during the company’s first quarter earnings call in January. “We are crafting our products and services with China in mind."
The company is also expected to unveil a new model of the larger-screen iPad Pro – released last fall – that included a new stylus and detachable keyboard that was aimed at artists and business users.
Unveiling a new phone – two years after the company launched the lower-priced, four-inch iPhone 5C — could help Apple revive its sales amid what analysts say is a global decline in sales for the first three months of this year.
The new phone is expected to be nearly identical to the iPhone 5S, though it may be offered in new colors, such as the rose gold shade introduced with the larger iPhone 6S last year and slight curves that distinguish it from the older model, the Telegraph reports.
Under the hood, it’s expected to bring the company’s more moderately-priced offerings up to date, adding a 12 megapixel camera and 4K video recording that are now offered on the 4.7” iPhone 6S. It will also likely boast an upgraded A9 processor that would increase its speed for tasks such as responses from the digital assistant Siri and support for Apple Pay.
It isn’t expected to include support for the 3D Touch features introduced with the iPhone 6S but could add the ability to take moving “live photos” that the company introduced last year, according to the Telegraph.
As is its custom, Apple has been quiet about its plans for Monday’s unveil, scheduled for 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern) in an auditorium at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a smaller venue than the larger San Francisco stages where it unveils new products each fall.
Shoppers bought a record 74.8 million iPhones in the last three months of 2015, making the tech giant the world’s most valuable company in terms of stock value, though Apple was later eclipsed by Alphabet, the holding company that includes Google.
The company has also been embroiled in a closely-watched battle with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters that has become a larger debate about the phone’s encryption features. While the company is set the argue its case in federal court on Tuesday, Mr. Cook – who has been highly vocal about his opposition to the FBI’s demand – may not discuss it during Monday’s event.
Apple has indicated that demand for iPhones during the first three months of this year will fall short of the 61 million iPhones sold last winter. Unveiling a new, moderately priced phone (the company’s larger models begin at $549 or more) could possibly help the company boost its sales.
While the company has historically focused on premium products – both in terms of design and price – offering a more moderately-priced phone could possibly encourage more users to switch from phones running Google’s Android, which are made by a number of companies around the world.
The technology research firm IDC expects sales of Android devices to increase this year to make up nearly 83 percent of smartphones sold across the globe. Sales of Apple’s iPhone, by contrast are expected to fall slightly to make up 15 percent of the market.
During the company’s annual product launch last September, analysts said new services – such as a more advanced Apple TV streaming box and an upgrade option for iPhone users that lets them pay for newer devices in monthly payments – as a key direction for the company.
But in this new launch, Apple appears to be focusing more exclusively on devices in a bid to reach a broader group of consumers. The company doesn’t seem likely to unveil any new services, such as its long-rumored streaming TV service. Launching new devices could also help the company offer more of its online services to consumers even if those services don’t receive an upgrade, analysts say.
“Tim Cook has said he thinks there's a lot of life left in the iPhone product line, despite the media and investor community pressuring Apple over the potential decline in premium iPhone sales,” Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau told the Associated Press. “I think it's exactly these types of things that he has in mind.”