Apple hasn’t even unveiled the iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C yet, but thanks to a report that emerged on Thursday evening, attention is already turning to the iPhone 6. Following reports to the same effect that emerged over the summer, The Wall Street Journal on Thursday claimed that Apple is currently testing new iPhone designs that include displays measuring up to 6 inches diagonally. Responding to the news, well-known Apple analyst Brian White, who was formerly with Topeka Capital Markets but has since moved to New York-based investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, said the report jibes with his findings and he thinks Apple “needs” a supersized iPhone if it hopes to truly succeed in the Far East.
“Last night, the Wall Street Journal indicated that Apple ‘has begun evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as 6 inches,’ ” White wrote in a note to investors on Friday. “We believe a larger iPhone screen would receive a very warm welcome in Asia and especially in China. At the same time, the shift by competitors to mega-screen sizes has been one of the bricks in the wall of worry around Apple.”
The analyst went on to state the he believes Apple will indeed release a new iPhone with a larger display in 2014. “At the end of last year, our research in Asia uncovered early stage work on iPhones with a larger screen size,” White wrote. “In our Apple initiation report this week, we indicated ‘a larger screen size on the iPhone is possible in 2014 that could approach 5-inches.’ ”
He noted that Apple is not likely to release an iPhone with a display as large as six inches, however, and that a screen measuring somewhere around 5 inches is likely the sweet spot.
Finally, White wrote that Apple’s upcoming lower-cost iPhone 5C is likely to help the company’s case in China, but Apple also “needs a mega iPhone” if it hopes to really strengthen its position in the world’s largest smartphone market.
“We believe the shift to mega-sized smartphones in China has negatively impacted Apple’s iPhone sales in the country, as total revenue in greater China fell by 14% Y/Y in 3QFY13,” White said. “China represents the largest smartphone market in the world, at approximately one-third of annual shipments. In fact, we estimate 3G users in China will grow 78% this year, from 233M at the end of 2012 to 415M at the end of 2013. Keep in mind, there were 1.2 billion wireless subscribers in China at the end of July, with 3G penetration at just 29%. A lower price point with the iPhone 5C should help Apple in China; however, we believe a mega-sized smartphone or ‘iPhad’ device has the potential to provide a further boost to sales.”
White maintains his Buy rating on Apple shares with a $777 price target.