Regarding iPad 5, iPhone 5s, and the less expensive iPhone

With the new year comes new speculation about what's next from Apple. We've been inundated with rumors already, everything from iterative to big to cheap iPhones, and everything from thinner iPads to Retina iPad minis. Today, Jeremy Horowitz from iLounge, which has a very good track record with this kind of stuff, gave a rundown of what he's hearing for 2013, including:

  • iPhone 5s (N51), coming as early as July, and perhaps with an upgraded 13-megapixel rear camera.

  • iPad 5 (J72), coming in October, with a thinner, lighter iPad mini-like casing.

  • iPad mini 2 (J85), also coming in October, with the same design but perhaps with a Retina display.

  • Cheaper iPhone for China with a plastic casing

  • Larger iPhone, which may or may not make it to market.

Some of this lines up with what I've seen and heard, and what prompted my posts on the less expensive iPhone, the 5-inch iPhone, and the iPad 5 design. All of it sounds reasonable, and depicts logical next-steps for Apple's product line.

As to the timeline, a lot of it might simply depend on how long it takes to get things done. Making a Retina iPad 4 as relatively thin and light as an iPad mini, and giving an iPad mini a Retina display while keeping it thin and light are tremendous undertakings. Apple needs more power efficient panel technology, perhaps Sharp's IGZO. They need more power efficient chips, especially GPUs, to drive them, perhaps at smaller die sizes. They need more efficient LED to light them. And they need as much from as little battery as possible to power it all. If that's not in place in time for spring, the fall is the logical launch slot.

With the phones, Apple did a tremendous amount of work making the iPhone 5 as thin as they did. Getting an iPhone 4S-class camera in something as thin as the iPhone 5 took a lot of that work. Now that it's done, ramping up the quality of the camera even higher certainly sounds like something Apple would do. It's what they did with the iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S jump, after all. Add possible advances in processor tech, panel tech, and battery tech, and it starts to take shape.

The less expensive iPhone and bigger iPhone may or may not leave design and prototype stages. That's likely a go-to-market decision, and will depend on Apple's business -- and business relationships -- in emerging markets, and competitive pressures. Neither feels imminent.

What that means for February and March is interesting. With Apple dropping as much new product as they did last fall, renewing virtually every line they make, there've been a lot of questions about what's left for early 2013. Two years ago we had the Verizon iPhone in February and the iPad 2 in March. Last year we had OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and the education event in February, and the iPad 3 and Apple TV 3 in March.

I mentioned Apple TV 4 earlier in the week. An OS X 10.9 preview could be in the works again. Beyond that, there's always the chance for something new, or at least something unexpected.

All of that being said, and as cool as the thought of new hardware is, I still think iOS 7 and iCloud will be far, far more important for Apple in 2013.

Check out iLounge's post for everything they're hearing.

Source: iLounge)