Apple sort of messed up with the iPhone naming pattern last year. The tech giant ditched the iPhone 7S moniker to launch the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. On of that, it introduced the iPhone X (called ‘ten’) along with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The weird naming scheme made it difficult for people to predict what the 2018 iPhones would be called – iPhone 9, iPhone 11, iPhone X2, iPhone Xs, iPhone X Plus, or something else? An analyst has now shed light on Apple’s 2018 iPhone naming scheme.
Guggenheim Securities analyst Robert Cihra told investors that Apple is going to simplify the iPhone branding this year. There is unlikely to be an iPhone 9 or iPhone 11. Previous reports have claimed that Apple would release three iPhones this year. One of them would feature a 5.8-inch OLED display, another would get a bigger 6.5-inch OLED panel, and the third one would feature a 6.1-inch LCD screen.
Cihra says Apple will “use this upcoming cycle to formally change its iPhone naming/branding pattern.” According to the analyst, the LCD iPhone might simply be called “iPhone” without any numbering. The two OLED models would retain the “X” suffix to denote their superior specifications. According to Guggenheim Securities, the 6.5-inch model would be called iPhone X Plus while the 5.8-inch variant could be referred to as “New iPhone X” or “iPhone X (2018)” or just “iPhone X2.” We believe it will likely be called iPhone X (2018) or “New iPhone X” to maintain the naming consistency with the iPhone X Plus.
The iPhone X Plus would remedy a “notable miss” in the last year’s iPhone lineup. Cihra added that the LCD model would be a “solid refresh” with features borrowed from the iPhone X such as 3D sensing, on-device machine learning, Face ID, and Animoji. Switching to a vague “iPhone” name without an identifying term could end up confusing customers. Last year’s iPhone lineup also pointed to an end of Apple’s iPhone “S” cycle.
This year’s iPhone naming scheme would be similar to Apple’s iPad line. Apple ditched the numbering pattern after the iPad 2, and then moved back to the “New iPad.” The special iPad versions were called iPad Air, iPad Pro, and iPad Mini. Currently, the tech giant lists the iPad Pro and the New iPad on its website, though it also has the iPad Mini 4.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors earlier this year that the 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus would feature 4GB RAM. The iPhone X (2018) is also expected to have the same amount of RAM, but the LCD version would get a lower 3GB RAM. The OLED iPhones would boast of a dual-camera system while the LCD model would feature only a single lens on the back. Apple is also said to remove the 3D Touch functionality from the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone to keep its production costs down.
Taiwan-based Economic Daily News recently reported that Apple was considering reducing the prices of its 2018 flagship models due to poor sales of the iPhone X, which starts at $999 and goes up to $1,149 for the 256GB model. Sources told the publication that the iPhone X (2018) would cost $899, which is $100 less than the starting price of 2017 iPhone X. The larger iPhone X Plus would have a starting price of $999.
Ming-Chi Kuo noted that Apple would finally offer a dual-SIM smartphone this year. The LCD iPhone would be available in single-SIM as well as dual-SIM variants. The dual-SIM smartphones are particularly popular in Asian markets such as China and India, as well as among international travelers. However, the dual-SIM LCD iPhone is unlikely to be sold in the US due to resistance from wireless carriers.
Kuo told investors that the single-SIM LCD iPhone could be priced between $550 and $650. That would be a surprisingly low price tag for an iPhone with a bezel-less design and Face ID technology. The dual-SIM variant will likely cost between $650 and $750. Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang speculates that the LCD iPhone could be $200 cheaper than its OLED siblings. The use of LCD instead of OLED will save Apple $50. Switching from the steel frame to another material would save further $20 per unit. The removal of 3D Touch should also bring down the cost of production.
Both Jun Zhang and Ming-Chi Kuo believe that the LCD iPhone would be Apple’s most popular smartphone offering this year due to its iPhone X-like design and a lower price tag. Zhang predicts Apple would produce around 60 million units of the LCD model, 28 million units of the iPhone X (2018), and about 22 million X Plus units this year.
Guggenheim Securities analyst Robert Cihra has lowered the iPhone unit growth for the current generation from 3% YoY to flat sales due to poor iPhone X sales and a weaker than expected demand in China. However, revenues are expected to grow because of the iPhone X’s higher price, which should lead to a 15% jump in the iPhone average selling price (ASP). Apple is set to report its fiscal second-quarter results on May 1. Cihra expects the company to post $60.9 billion in revenues with $2.69 in earnings per share.