Apple will resume its cycle of summer iPhone refreshes this August with its latest incarnation, likely to be dubbed the 5S, according to one published report. It's the latest in a continuous stream of iPhone and iPad rumors, since Apple makes a habit of sitting back and enjoying speculation while saying little or nothing about its product release plans.
The report on a site focused on Apple products, iMore, credits "sources familiar with the plans" as saying the 5S will be released in August while new iPads, both the original and kid-sibling iPad mini, could appear as soon as next month.
Neither development would be surprising since that's roughly the schedule of releases to which Apple has adhered so far. The iPad mini, an apparent reaction -- rare on Apple's part -- to competition from smaller tablet form factors, especially Samsung's smaller Galaxy Tabs, went on sale in October.
The iPhone 5 was released a month earlier after the early summer cycle was interrupted in 2011 by the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 for Verizon Wireless (January) and later the iPhone 4S (October).
The iMore report said the external design of the 5S would be the same as the iPhone 5, but it would pack a faster processor and better camera -- again, pretty safe bets because that was the case with the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S.
But these days, the pressure is on Apple to keep up the momentum and keep the iPhone on top of the smartphone heap, especially during the non-holiday sales periods. The first post-Steve Jobs iPhone fell short of some Wall Street estimates but is still a huge seller. At the same time, its biggest rival, Samsung's Galaxy S devices, are gaining momentum, with the fourth edition due to be unveiled next week in New York. That's less than a year since the release of the Galaxy S III.
"Apple's competition coming from Samsung and others is way beyond the dual-core, tiny 4-inch HD display, hundreds of apps and annual refresh cycles," said analyst Neil Shah of Strategy Analytics.
Time to Pick Up the Pace?
"This has forced Apple to consider a semi-annual product refresh to catch up with Samsung that is challenging status quo in the premium smartphone segment, especially during Q2 and Q3 with comparatively advanced launches such as the Samsung Galaxy S III last year and Galaxy S IV this year.
Shah expects that the incremental refresh for the iPhone 5 will add "the missing pieces of the puzzle" that rivals already feature, such as a quad-core CPU and the ability to use near-field communication for file transfers and payments.
An aggressive schedule of refreshes of a wide portfolio of devices, from the flagship Galaxy S phones to the Note "phablets" and entry-level Galaxy Pocket allow Samsung to "sustain volume and revenue growth throughout the year," Shah said.