Apple’s iPhone: A one or two-model launch?

September 20, 2011

Officially, there is no iPhone 5. Apple doesn’t comment on future products, on rumor or speculation, which is why fans of the company’s products are so eager to get any information that hints at when the launch might happen.

Right now, the tech blog rumor mill is spinning toward an October launch — with the possibility of a release event later this month — according to leaked documents, secret sources and speculation based on past Apple actions.

Carriers, perhaps eager to generate buzz for themselves, have also let some details about the launch slip. The head of France Telecom-Orange said in a interview with French media that the iPhone will launch on Oct. 15, Techradar UK reported.

So while people seem to be settling in on a time frame, it’s still not clear what, exactly, Apple is launching. There are two prevailing theories out there: that Apple is launching a slightly revamped version of the iPhone 4, or that it’s launching two phones — the upgraded iPhone 4 and a completely redesigned iPhone 5.

First the bad news. Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities is setting the bar low for Apple’s next launch, saying that there will be no iPhone 5, but rather the slightly upgraded “iPhone 4S.” According to MacRumors, Kuo said last week that he has had no indication from his sources in Apple’s supply chain that the new phone will be anything but an iPhone 4 with more RAM (512 MB) and the same screen size, glass front and back and thickness.

On the other hand, J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz has picked up the thread that’s been prevalent in the tech media for a while, and has said that he expects Apple to launch two phones, the iPhone 5 and something he’s calling the iPhone-Plus. According to a report from Canada’s Financial Post, Moskowitz said he believes the Plus will be targeted particularly toward Apple’s growing China market and will come with pre-paid and post-paid plans.

Moskowitz said the iPhone 5 will be a GSM/CDMA phone, a “world” phone that would run on all U.S. networks, and will be thinner and lighter. He said, however, that the new phone will not run LTE.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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