iPhone 5, iPad Mini Reports Draw Big Apple Buzz (AAPL)

Posted by · May 16, 2012 4:49 pm

Apple iPhone iPad rumorsAfter a bit of a dry spell, the Apple rumor mill is back in business. And in the world of Apple buzz, apparently when it rains it pours. To start off the day Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal report had investors and consumers alike in suspense as the dawn of the next iPhone approaches.

However, the excitement over the latest iPhone feature leak apparently wasn’t quite enough for the folks in Cupertino. Hours later, yet another report flooded the headlines—this time about another Apple tablet.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Apple to Respond to Samsung with Larger iPhone Screens

After much back-and-forth about the screen size of the next-generation iPhone, what seems to be a reliable report from the Wall Street Journal appears to have cleared the air on just where Apple stands on the future of its iconic smartphone.

“The new iPhone that Apple Inc. is expected to unveil this year is likely to have a larger display than its current models have,” the WSJ report began, citing word from “people familiar with the matter” that Apple was indeed ordering larger screens from its transpacific suppliers. “The new screens measure at least 4 inches diagonally.”

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Unsurprisingly, Apple maintained its M.O. of plausible deniability after the report broke, refusing to comment either way.

The reason for the bigger screens, analysts suggest, is the “intensified competition” between Apple and its South Korean rival Samsung Electronics. With the official unveil of its 4.8-inch flagship smartphone—the Samsung Galaxy S III—earlier this month, Samsung now offers one of the largest smartphone screens on the market. Meanwhile, the 3.5-inch iPhone is poised to lose major ground as people gravitate toward larger smartphone screens, as recent studies have indicated they likely will.

Even so, Apple is not without its own advantages.

“The smartphone market has become diverse, but the iPhone still set the agenda,” notes Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst over at Mizuho Investors Securities. While screen sizes matter to a degree, Kurahashi maintains that overall experience, particularly apps and user interface, are far more important. Given that those are Apple’s stronger points, the analyst maintains that the company is hardly losing ground.

“If Apple ever released a lower-priced iPhone, that would be more of a sign that the changing market environment is beginning to affect the company,” he concluded.

If the report turns out to be true, it would serve to confirm earlier rumors of more spacious iPhone displays, adding a 4.0-plus-inch screen to the list of expected new iPhone features, including HD retina display, 4G LTE capability, and a new micro dock.

I guess we’ll find out this fall.

iPad Mini Not A Hoax After All

Remember back in February, when people weren’t sure what version of the iPad to expect in the big March reveal? Would it be the iPad 3, an iPad 2S, maybe even an iPad Mini? Nobody could be sure. Nevertheless, after the somewhat anticlimactic unveil of “the new iPad,” the idea of the iPad Mini all but vanished.

Thinking that it was little more than a classic case of Apple misdirection in the lead-up to one of its product releases, I thought little of the rumors that a smaller, 7-or-8-inch iPad Mini might actually still be in the works.

Well two months later, low and behold, a report from Business Insider cites an investor note from Barclays discussing none other than a new 7-inch tablet from Apple.

iPad mini

“Following up on comments made last week, recent research still leads us to believe that Apple may be planning to add another form factor to its iPad line in the 7” range for the fall,” the note reportedly read. Calling it a “necessary entry point to make the tablet market the size of the PC market by 2015,” the note looks fondly on the creation of a smaller, more affordable Apple tablet.

“The new tablet will feature a 7.85-inch display to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet,” writes BGR’s Zach Epstein, citing the always-reliable sources for DigiTimes. “[P]ricing is expected to fall in the $249 to $299 range.”

Such reports are building up what could be an epic fall for Apple. The release of a newer, bigger iPhone and a smaller, more affordable iPad would certainly provide a boon to investors looking to squeeze a few more bucks out of their Apple shares before the inevitable deflation of this new tech bubble inspires a market-wide selloff.

For the vast majority of us who invest in Apple by purchasing its products rather than buying and selling its stock, however, the jury is still out.

What’s your take on these latest reports on Apple? Would you prefer a bigger iPhone or a smaller iPad? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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