Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears ready to unveil the iPhone 6 to the world. Re/code is reporting that the Mac maker has scheduled its media event for Tuesday, September 9. If accurate, that would be just over a month away and almost exactly one year after last year's iPhone event.
In recent years, Apple has used its September media event to show off the latest and greatest iPhone models, while scheduling a separate October media event dedicated to iPads. That lets Apple hog the spotlight for a good two months, potentially overshadowing any competing product announcements.
Apple typically launches new iPhone models on the following Friday, which suggests that the new iPhone(s) will be available on Friday, Sept. 19. That would make much more sense than the previously leaked October 14 date, which didn't stand up very well to scrutiny. Oct. 14 could potentially have some other significance, as perhaps Apple will host its October event on that date.
One iPhone or two iPhones?
Last year was the first time that Apple introduced two distinct iPhone models, the 5s and 5c. While many observers have doubted the iPhone 5c and its customer reception, CEO Tim Cook recently noted that the company's mid-tier device was the fastest growing pricing tier last quarter. That would be comparing the iPhone 5c to the iPhone 4s, which was the mid-tier offering a year go.
It remains unclear whether or not Apple will launch one or two new iPhone 6 models this time around. Expectations are already set for a 4.7-inch model as well as a 5.5-inch model. However, there have been reports that the 5.5-inch model is facing production challenges, a common storyline when it comes to new Apple products. As a result, it's possible that Apple may not launch the 5.5-inch iPhone until later this year.
Apple will respond to one of these trends
Apple moved to a 4-inch display in 2012 with the iPhone 5, but consumer preferences are quickly shifting towards larger displays. Apple has seemingly acknowledged this. Internal slides dated April 2013 leaked earlier this year noted, "consumers want what we don't have," referring to devices with displays larger than 4-inches. The iPhone maker is aware that the "strongest demand [is] coming from less expensive and larger screen smartphones."
There has also been speculation that Apple will increase the price of the latest iPhones as it moves to larger displays. The company may choose to add $100 to the subsidized price when purchased on contract, bringing the final price tag up to $299. Apple may enjoy success with the possible price increase though, as the industry is quickly moving towards installment plans thanks to T-Mobile. Installment plans actually make consumers less price sensitive, which will likely lead to tremendous upgrade activity within Apple's loyal customer base.
While Apple will likely never give in to pricing pressures, accommodating shifting preferences to larger displays is the right move to make and will allow Apple to address a market segment currently dominated by Google Android offerings.
iOS 8 is coming too
Apple usually releases the latest version of iOS alongside new iPhones. That means that iOS 8, unveiled in June, should be released next month as well. iOS 8 includes a slew of new features that will also appeal to longtime Android users, such as greater customization and allowing apps to better communicate with each other.
Apple usually sends out official media invites approximately 2 weeks prior to events, so in a matter of weeks we'll know if the September 9 date is set or not.