Rumors of a cheap iPhone and the iPhone 5S crank up in the face of Galaxy S4 fever

iphone-5-mainSamsung may be stealing many of the headlines in the run up to the launch of the Galaxy S4, but Apple analysts are still busily predicting what the Cupertino firm has in store for us over the coming year, ensuring it’s not far behind in the race for column inches. KGI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated a previous prediction, saying Apple will release two new iPhone models this year – the iPhone 5S and the much-discussed cheap iPhone.

The arrival of an iPhone 5S seems like a given, as it fits with what Apple has done previously, and this time Kuo has provided a few possible specification details. The screen and overall design will stay the same, but the processor could receive a speed boost, while a new camera sensor could be fitted along with something called a SmartFlash. Apple has been linked with an unusual camera flash before, where a tinted flash would work in conjunction with a standard LED flash to improve white balance in low-light shots.

SmartFlash aside, Kuo says the other exciting new feature introduced in the iPhone 5S will be a fingerprint scanner, but instead of it being fitted inside the Home button, it’ll be mounted beneath it on the chassis. He doesn’t elaborate on quite how Apple will manage this, as there really isn’t much space between the bottom of the button and the base of the phone.

As for the cheap iPhone, Kuo thinks it’ll retain the same 4-inch Retina screen, A6 processor and 8-megapixel camera found on the iPhone 5, but the body will be constructed out of plastic. It’ll be slightly thicker at 8.2mm and weigh a little more at 130 grams. He estimates an unlocked price of between $350 and $450, but it’ll be free with a two-year contract in the U.S. This puts it in a similar range to the Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Razr i and the Sony Xperia T.

Will it happen? Until Apple tells us it will, the cheap iPhone must remain an unconfirmed rumor; although if it can produce a plastic iPhone 5 for $400 it’ll likely sell plenty – particularly if it can manage its stock more effectively than Google has done with the $300 Nexus 4. As for when the iPhone 5S or cheap iPhone 5 will arrive, Kuo’s guess is we can expect a June announcement for at least the iPhone 5S with iOS 7, although it’s not clear whether the cheaper model will come at the same time.

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