Apple is expected to have a handful of new products slated to reach consumers in the months ahead, including a smaller, less-expensive iPhone and a refreshed tablet, wearable, and line of laptops.
Reports last week said the new smartphone will be called the iPhone 5se. The device is expected to have a 4-inch display, and its design will be similar to that of the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5se's potential feature list includes Apple Pay, curved glass chamfers, and improved cameras.
Initial thinking saw the iPhone 5se packing the 2014-era A8/M8 processor chip combo. However, with the A10 processor due in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus this fall, Apple doesn't want the smaller iPhone to be seen as lagging the new iPhone with an older processor. That means the iPhone 5se is more likely to include the A9/M9 processor duo. The A9 processor will allow Siri to listen all the time for the "Hey Siri" voice prompt on the iPhone 5se without being plugged in. 9to5mac also reported that the iPhone 5se will likely replace the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as the low-cost iPhone model once the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus reach the market.
The iPhone 5se may be a welcome addition to Apple's lineup to the phablet-averse, but noted KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo isn't impressed. KGI revised its fiscal 2016 iPhone shipment forecast downward.
"While the new 4-inch iPhone has been enjoying the media spotlight, we don't regard the product as innovative, either in terms of form factor (similar to iPhone 5s) or hardware specs," said Kuo. "Moreover, considering the replacement impact on price cuts for iPhone 5s, we lower 2016 fiscal shipments of the new 4-inch model from 18 million to 20 million units to 10 million to 12 million units."
That's a hefty drop, signaling a lack of confidence in the smaller iPhone as a turn-around product. KGI also estimates shipments of the entire iPhone line will show drops in the fourth quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016, when compared to the year-ago periods, thanks to a slowdown in sales of the newest models.
The iPad Air 3 and new MacBooks expected to arrive before July have KGI feeling better about Apple's future. "We see MacBook as a stronger candidate for becoming a theme given solid growth in the business segment, as well as a potential upgrade to hit the market," said Kuo.
The iPad Air 3 is believed to be a smaller version of the iPad Pro, which means it may gain support for the Apple Pencil and stereo speakers. The iPad Air 3 may also gain 3D Touch.
There's not much data on the refreshed line of MacBooks, but they are expected to see a new design.
Additionally, this spring will see some new bands made available for the Apple Watch, but a full second-edition wearable isn't slated to arrive until the fall.Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio