KGI Research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a timeline indicating that Apple is planning a massive rollout for multiple new products in Q3 2014. According to the Kuo, the only thing we can expect to see in the first half of the year is a small iMac update. Starting at the end of the third quarter and continuing into the beginning of the fourth, however, Apple will update most of its product lineup: iPad Air and mini, the Apple TV, and the MacBook family.
Two new products reportedly planned for this timeframe are the iWatch, which Kuo says will be available in two different sizes, and the long-rumored 4.7-inch iPhone. The 5.5-inch iPhone that was reportedly delayed due to manufacturing issues with the display is said to be coming near the end of Q4, making it the last release for this year.
An interesting note on the iPhone 6 design also appears in the KGI report:
Power button location changed for first time. Our understanding is that iPhone 6’s power button might be moved from the top to the side. We think this change is meant to facilitate one-hand operation and might indicate new application that require more frequent use of the power button.
Moving the power button from the top of the phone to the side would certainly make sense if the new phone is going to be much taller than the iPhone 5.
The note also predicts that the iWatch will be available in several different styles (in two sizes, as mentioned above), with an emphasis on design and fashion:
Fashion is the name of the game; most expensive model likely priced at several thousand US dollars. Referring to the rules of the fashion market, we predict the iWatch casing and band will come in various materials. The most expensive model of the iWatch line will carry a price tag of several thousand US dollars. Assuming the iWatch proves to be a success, we expect Apple’s key competitors in 5-10 years will be the current fashion brands, not the existing tech companies.
Interestingly, Kuo suggests that the iPhone 6 will sport an NFC chip—an idea that was quite popular several years ago but in recent update cycles has fallen by the wayside in favor of Touch ID and other enhacements.
Apple to offer all-new design 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone 6. Although the 5.5” model will have higher resolution (1,920×1,080/401PPI) than the 4.7” (1,334×750/326PPI), due to same proportion in terms of length and width, it is good for APP compatibility. Specifications common to both models will include A8 processor, LPDDR3 1GB, LTPS panel, in-cell touch, Touch ID (fingerprint identification), 10-20% narrower bezel, 6.5-7.0mm thickness, NFC chip with security element and metal casing. [Italics emphasis added]
Other iPhone 6 predictions state that only the 64 GB version of the 5.5-inch model will include a sapphire Touch ID cover due to supply issues.
The larger iPhone will be positioned as a “phablet” device rather than a “smartphone” and will include a much larger battery. According to the KGI prediction, the larger iPhone’s battery capacity could be as much as 50-70% higher than the 4.7-inch model, though the battery life would be similar due to the extra power required for the larger display.
The camera in the iPhone 6 is also said to remain at 8 MP but will get a longer exposure time to improve quality:
iPhone 6 rear camera still 8MP and f2.2 aperture same as iPhone 5S, but OIS will increase exposure time. iPhone 6’s rear camera won’t have pixel and aperture upgrade, but the adoption of OIS will increase exposure time, which can improve image quality. We think this change will indeed produce better photos than just increasing pixel number.
The report notes that Apple is believed to be working on a 12.9-inch iPad to fill out the rest of the lineup. This device won’t be announced this year, but is said to be something Apple is considering. A new user interface is also rumored to accomdate easier input on the larger screen:
We believe Apple is working on a 12.9” iPad to generate new growth momentum. Apple will want to boost shipments and profits by offering a better entertainment and productivity experience with a 12.9” iPad. But we think this product is unlikely to come out this year. With the 12.9” iPad, we think Apple will come up with a new user interface that’s more innovative and intuitive, so that input will be as efficient as a device with keyboard.
KGI is usually pretty reliable on the product details in reports like this, though the timing is sometimes less accurate.