Want to know about the iPhone 7 before release? He nailed it. iPhone 6S? He nailed it. iPhone SE? He nailed it. Yes, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has an unparalleled track record attaining Apple AAPL +2.74%’s future plans and now he has news on perhaps the biggest iPhone change in years…
Having last week confirmed the 2017 iPhone SE update has been scrapped, a new research note from Kuo obtained by MacRumors explains that’s just the beginning of Apple’s plans to overhaul the iPhone range:
“We look for new 2017 iPhones to come in three models: one OLED model, and two TFT-LCD models with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display. We believe the OLED and 5.5-inch TFT-LCD iPhones will feature [a] dual-camera.”
2017 Apple iPhone OLED concept design with integrated fingerprint reader. Image credit: Veniamin Geskin
Barclays analysts this week said this OLED model will be a massive 5.8-inches and, if correct, Kuo’s revelation of three distinct models brings both good and bad news:
The Good News
Looking at this positively, Apple finally embracing OLED is great news. OLED works without a backlight so it can be much thinner and lighter than the IPS LCD panels iPhones currently use and they can save battery life. OLED also achieves a higher contrast ratio than LCD, so it would be a notable step up.
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That said it would be a catch up as much as a step up, since Apple rivals have been predominantly using OLED for several years now.
The Bad News
And yet the bad news is all too obvious: further fragmentation of the premium iPhone line and continued sidelining of the popular and most affordable 4.7-inch iPhone model.
Whereas the adoption of OLED has long been expected across the iPhone range in 2017, giving it to just one model which will sit above both the so-called ‘iPhone 8’ and ‘iPhone 8 Plus’ with an even higher price tag risks alienating customers. Especially in light of the major price increases delivered with the new MacBook Pro lineup this year.
After all it was not long ago that, storage aside, $650 got you the best iPhone spec. Now a $650 iPhone 7 has a worse display, camera and reduced RAM and battery life compared to a $770 iPhone 7 Plus. But come 2018 it appears circa $850-900 is going to be the entry level price point for an iPhone with Apple’s best display and camera tech.
Right now the Google Pixel is clearly the best smartphone camera with the Galaxy S7 second and the increasingly neglected 4.7-inch iPhone 7 falling behind. Image credit: Gordon Kelly
Do you have the cash to pay for a top of the line iPhone but prefer the smaller 4.7-inch form factor? Tough. Best you take a long hard look at the uncompromising 5-inch Google Pixel.
What To Think?
The big concern here is Apple is forgetting the every-man. Apple products have always been expensive and – critically – they have always been aspirational. But right now a base level 15-inch MacBook Pro costs more than some of us paid for our first car.
Apple has recently stated sales of these new MacBook Pros are very strong while demand for the iPhone 7 Plus has outstripped the iPhone 7 for the first time, so the strategy is working: people are indeed prepared to pay more and more for the best that Apple can offer.
So where is the line where customers will start to leave? Right now no-one knows, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Apple is prepared to find out…