For the entirety of Steve Jobs’ stewardship of the iPhone program, Apple never released more than one phone per year. A single device should always be able to strike the right balance of features and price, so Jobs’s theory went, and introducing more than one phone is a sure way to clutter the lineup.
But with Jobs firmly in the company’s rear-view mirror, the iPhone lineup has been growing at speed. First came the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014, and just three years later, Apple released the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X within the same quarter. According to yet another analyst report, that three-phone trend is going to keep going strong in 2018.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani has penned another note suggesting that Apple will release three iPhones in 2018, all at the same time. There will be a follow-up to the iPhone X (maybe the iPhone X2?) a bigger iPhone X Plus, and some kind of cheaper plus-sized iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD screen.
Of those three, Daryanani expects the LCD iPhone to sell the best, accounting for around half of all iPhone production. “We think the new LCD iPhone (iPhone 9?) will be featured with a 6.1” full screen, and possibly with 3D sensing,” Daryanani writes. “Based on our channel checks, we believe the new features should drive iPhone 9 sell-through, provided pricing is reasonable. Additionally, we think there is potential for a larger-capacity battery as new features are added to iPhones.”
In a previous note, Daryanani suggests that the iPhone 9 would cost around $650 or $700, in line with the current iPhone 8. It’s a price cut of sorts however, as Apple has never sold a big-screen iPhone for less than $749. The normal-sized iPhone X2 would also get a price cut compared to the current iPhone X, and end up around $899, making it more competitive with the Galaxy S9 ($800 at most carriers).
The other big takeaway from the note is that iPhone X demand has been well under what Apple’s suppliers expected. “Based on our channel checks with suppliers, we believe current production expectation for new iPhones is ~80-90M units for second half calendar 2018, which is below suppliers’ expectation of ~100-120M units for iPhone 8/X in early 2017,” Daryanani writes. “However, we would note compared to the very optimistic expectation for iPhone 8/X sell-through, supply chain partners now have a more subdued expectation. ”