iPhone 5 Release Date: Forget Summer Debut, Here's Why October Launch is Likely

Apr 25, 2012 12:45 PM EDT

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With WWDC approaching in June, suggestions are Apple will preview iOS 6 and maybe even debut the next iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5. However, the buzz in the blogosphere is growing that Apple will unveil its sixth generation iPhone in Fall, possibly in October, and not at the WWDC. Why?

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First, Qualcomm has said it is struggling to meet the iPad's demand and therefore is struggling to produce the 28-nanometer chips. "At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increased demand we are experience," Qualcomm CEO, Paul Jacobs, said to analysts. The company is also expecting a rise in demand for 4G components during December, according to the company's financial analyst meeting transcripts. That could be around an iPhone launch in the second half of the year.

Second, LTE isn't widely adopted outside of the U.S. and Canada. The service is nonexistent in the UK, and will only reach bigger cities such as London and Manchester when rolled out. Apple has also offered refunds to its Australian customers, as the new iPad does not support the country's 4G LTE network despite initially advertising otherwise. Australia's only 4G operator, Telstra Corp, uses a different 4G frequency. To make sure that iPhone 5, which is expected to support 4G LTE, does in reality support LTE networks worldwide (and not just in the US), Apple will probably play the waiting game.

"And then the December quarter, obviously, the demand back up into that, our goals are pretty high there in terms of filing this customer demand," Qualcomm CFO William Kietel said when asked by Brian Modoff - of Deutsche Bank - to clarify the production schedule. That suggests there could be an iPhone launch during Q4 2012, which lines up with the traditional iPhone launch window.

If Qualcomm can't meet demand for iPads now, then a new iPhone launch would only cause further damage. HTC and Samsung are rumored to be ditching Qualcomm, with Samsung rumored to be using an Exynos chip in the Samsung Galaxy S3, while HTC will apparently develop its own chip for low-end devices.

Kietel also said production would be "more meaningful" in September, which would be the time to ramp up production if the iPhone launched in October.

"There's going to be, I think, a lot of focus on product launches going into the September quarter and particularly into the December quarter," Kietel added.

Another reason why Apple could launch iPhone 5 during Fall and not Summer is because Apple hasn't announced iOS 6 yet. The tech giant typically releases OS upgrade at the time of or before the launch of a new device.

WWDC could play host to the beta version debut of iOS 6, as it would give developers sufficient time to create and fix apps for the new phone. 

Other reasons that strongly justify an October debut of iPhone 5 are:

Ø  June debut is too close for comfort as heavyweight Android rivals such as Samsung and HTC will be debuting their flagship Galaxy S3 and HTC One X in coming weeks. Of course, iPhone 5 will hold its ground but why take on major rivals when Apple can wait for the Android frenzy to die down?

Ø  iPhone 4S was launched in October 2011. Launching iPhone 5 in June would make Apple risk upsetting those who bought iPhone 4S. Moreover, Apple generally waits for a year, if not more, before launching an upgraded/new device. June launch would mean straying away from the time frame. Also, there's no reason for Apple to launch iPhone 5 in June because iPhone 4S is still doing well in terms of sales.

Ø  The holiday shopping season was one of the main reasons why iPhone 4S broke previous weekend debut sales record, despite the fact that iPhone 4S mainly focused on software refresh. We won't be surprised if Apple capitalizes on holiday shopping frenzy by launching iPhone 5 in October.

Ø  Rumors are buzzing loud that iPhone 5 could feature quad-core processor, liquidmetal chassis and in-cell touch panel. The latter will make iPhone break the 8mm thickness mark and make it the thinnest and lightest iPhone Apple has ever produced. These rumors should not be taken lightly especially as iPhone 5 is expected to be revolutionary device that would set new benchmarks in the smartphone industry. However, to ensure that expectations of customers and Apple fanboys are met, Apple and its production partners would need more time.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Dave Clark)


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