Noted leaker Benjamin Geskin recently tweeted that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 8 will come in a color called "Blush Gold." Moreover, he said the bar code reads: "Blush Gold 64GB / 128GB" -- suggesting that Apple's upcoming iPhone models will only come with storage configurations of 64 and 128 gigabytes.
Here's why I think that something isn't right about that.
Apple can't just offer less storage
Today, Apple offers its iPhone 7-series smartphones in three storage tiers: 32, 128, and 256 gigabytes.
Apple has often used storage capacity as a means by which to upsell users to higher-priced smartphones. Apple typically charges $100 extra for each successive storage tier within a flagship iPhone lineup. That's nice for Apple because it drives up iPhone average selling prices and therefore revenue, and it can push average gross profit up as well, since the incremental NAND flash usually costs less than what Apple charges customers to move up a tier.
Previously, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities said all new iPhone models -- that's the iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone with OLED display -- will come in 64- and 256-gigabyte configurations. That claim makes sense: If Apple wants to deliver more value to customers to try to boost its market share while still giving customers reason to buy up the product stack, it makes sense to offer a 64-gigabyte base model as well as a model with as much storage as the previous-generation smartphones offered.
In fact, I suspect that if it weren't for the industrywide 3-D NAND flash shortage, Apple might even have planned to offer a variant of its premium iPhone with OLED display with 512 gigabytes of storage, as it does with its current iPad Pro 10.5- and 12.9-inch devices.
But offering users -- especially Apple's highest-paying customers, in the case of the iPhone with OLED display -- less storage than they could've gotten in the past, particularly as mobile storage demands continue to grow as photos and videos become more complex, seems a patently ludicrous idea.
I don't know if Geskin may have gotten some bad information from an ill-informed source, or if this is an issue of miscommunication, but there's no way Apple will limit any of its new iPhone models this fall to just 128 gigabytes of storage.
When will we see a 512GB iPhone?
I think we'll see iPhone models with 512 gigabytes of storage launch no later than the 2018 iPhone product cycle. By then, the industrywide 3-D NAND supply issues should be a thing of the past as capacity comes online, yield rates improve, and the NAND chips themselves become denser.
However, I think there's a slight chance we could see such phones sooner than that: Apple could very well launch 512-gigabyte variants of the upcoming iPhone models -- or, at the very least, the premium OLED model -- mid-cycle, as a way to stimulate incremental demand and/or try to maintain, or even further boost, iPhone average selling prices as the initial euphoria around the devices wanes.