Naturally this is all just hearsay – as is the case with Apple – but the source seems to be a pretty reliable one. According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Q3 will see Apple releasing a revamped version of both the iPad and the iPad mini, two ‘smart’ iWatches, a 4.7” iPhone (iPhone 6, we presume), a new 12” MacBook, and an Apple TV update. Finally, there’s also going to be an even bigger iPhone, though this probably won’t hit the shops until the end of the year.
“We believe the rumored iWatch will be Apple’s most important product this year, carrying much more weight than iPhone 6,” Kuo write.
“As market feedback for the product should reveal whether Apple still has the ability to continue making game-changing products with Tim Cook at the helm.”
We haven’t seen so much as a leaked image of Apple’s fabled iWatch, so it’s a bit surprising that reports are now claiming its first wearable tech gizmo will come in two sizes, not to mention it will operate independently from an iPhone or iPad.
If true, it means that Apple is making huge strides in the wearable tech market, as current smartwatches like the Galaxy Gear are dependent on smartphone mothering them. A standalone smartwatch really would be something quite different…
The iWatch will supposedly feature iOS-exclusive features such as a health monitoring app, NFC, biometric recognition, and a system-in-package (SiP) design for slimness. It will be built from flexible materials, including a 1.3- to 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display with sapphire cover and liquid metal for mechanical parts to make the device curve around the wearer’s wrist. Clearly then, Apple has spent a lot of time on the iWatch’s aesthetic design, which Kuo says is a sign Apple is competing as much with fashion vendors as it is with tech companies.
iPad and iPad mini
More predictable is the expected revamp of Apple’s tablets, the iPad and the iPad mini. The so-called iPad Air 2 will come with a next-generation A8 mobile processor manufactured for Apple by TSMC, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and an 8MP rear-facing camera, while the iPad mini with Retina Display will also get an A8 chip and Touch ID sensor.
Consumers can expect some price adjustments for the iPads, especially since the iPad mini with Retina Display did not sell as well as Apple hoped, something that may be due to the thickness of the device in relation to its having a Retina Display. This year’s iPad mini will retain the same form factor, but it’ll be shipped in fewer quantities. Kuo also reported that Apple is working on a 12.9” iPad which will probably be released next year in the hopes of generating new growth momentum.
Naturally Kuo had a thing or two to say about Apple’s pièce de résistance, the latest iPhone. Previously, SiliconANGLE has reported that the iPhone 6 will be the first Apple iPhone to come in two sizes: one with a 4.7” display, the other a 5.5” display. The 5.5” version is said to be the higher-end version and will feature a display with a resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels and 401 pixels per inch, while the 4.7” model will have a slightly lower resolution – 1,334×750 pixels and a pixel density of 326 ppi.
Even so, neither device is exactly ‘low-end’ by any stretch. Both iPhone 6’s will use Apple’s A8 system-on-chip with 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and will feature low temperature polysilicon in-cell touch panels, Touch ID fingerprint security, NFC, metal casing, 8MP iSight camera, and bezels that are 10 to 20 percent narrower than the iPhone 5s.
Kuo noted that there’s a possibility the sleep/wake button will be relocated onto the side to facilitate one-handed operation, or else a new feature may be introduced that requires frequent presses of the sleep/wake button. The iPhone 6 with a 5.5” display will be released later than its smaller sister due to production delays, making it Apple’s last product release this year.
Though fanbois are still pining for an iTV, Kuo believes they’re going to be disappointed. Instead, he believes all Apple is planning (for now) is a revamped set-top box due for release sometime in the middle of the third quarter.
Apple’s new TV box will come with some nifty features though, including integrated motion control technology that allows users to engage without the use of a physical remote, just using gestures formed by their hands. These new gesture controls are likely to be a product of Apple’s acquisition of PrimeSense. An Apple TV reference has been seen in the wild which led many to conclude that a new set-top box is in the works. Though it’s uncertain, the new Apple TV may have a full-fledged App Store so users can directly buy or rent content from iTunes.
iMac and MacBook
In case you forgot, Apple still makes computers and it’s in this arena where we’re likely to see its next product release. Sometime in this quarter, Apple is going to release a low-cost iMac, most likely at WWDC in June. The introduction of a low-cost iMac will allow Apple to better compete with HP and Lenovo, both of whom offer affordable all-in-one desktops. Apple will also come out with a new 12” MacBook Air around Q4, which is likely to feature a fan-less design, fewer inputs and outputs, a new click-less trackpad, and a Retina Display.
Kuo stated in his report that Apple’s success hinges on five key factors: consumer interest in larger iPhones; minor upgrades in iPads that will drive sales in 2014; whether or not the 12” MacBook Air can redefine the notebook experience; if low-priced iMacs can boost overall shipments; and finally, the availability of the App Store on the Apple TV.