Apple’s (AAPL) next-generation iPhone is expected to be an “S” upgrade like the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S before it. Rather than a complete overhaul like the iPhone 5 was, Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 5S” will likely feature minor cosmetic changes and some updated internal components. Apple will likely want to introduce a new key feature that will help convince Apple fans to upgrade their year-old iPhone 5 handsets, however, just as Siri prompted iPhone 4 owners to buy the iPhone 4S. According to a new report, the next iPhone’s “Siri” will be a new fingerprint scanner that Apple builds directly into the new iPhone’s hardware.
“We believe fingerprint identification technology will be part of the iPhone 5S and this is likely to be the major new feature used to market the iPhone 5S, similar to what Siri was to the iPhone 4S,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White wrote in a research note on Friday. An earlier report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who has a good track record when covering plans regarding unannounced Apple products, also suggested Apple’s next iPhone will include fingerprint scanning technology.
White is currently wrapping up a trip to the Far East where he met with various unnamed supply chain companies, and he also says that Apple’s iPhone 5S will feature an improved camera and the “left side buttons to be arranged a bit differently.”
Regarding the much rumored entry-level iPhone Apple reportedly plans to launch this year, White believes it will debut this summer alongside the iPhone 5S.
“Our general takeaway around Apple is that a lower-priced iPhone and the iPhone 5S will be announced together in June and launched in July. Despite recent reports to the contrary, our research indicates that a lower-priced iPhone is in the works,” he wrote. “Essentially, this confirms our previous thinking. Strangely enough, the lower-priced iPhone is still being called the ‘iPhone mini’; however, the general consensus (albeit a few disagreed and expect a slightly smaller screen) was that this new device would actually have the same screen size (i.e., 4-inches) as the iPhone 5.”
He continued, “The ‘iPhone mini’ will have a curved back casing made of colored plastic and will be thicker than the iPhone 5. We also learned the pricing could be a bit higher than our recently raised expectation, reaching as high as $400. As such, we are now projecting a $350 to $400 price point for the ‘iPhone mini.’ We believe this price point will provide relief for those investors concerned that Apple would be sacrificing too much margin or brand to serve the lower price band of the smartphone market.”
White reiterated his Buy rating on Apple shares with an $888 price target.