The first half of 2013 seems to be a busy period for Apple as an analyst's research report indicates that Apple will be launching the next generation iPhone in June or July.
According to Jeffries analyst Peter Misek, the next iPhone model (known as the iPhone 5S) is expected to be launched in June or July, with production slated to begin in March. Moreover, he has seen evidence of two iPhone 5S prototypes in testing.
Peter Misek - "Our checks indicate that preliminary builds for the iPhone 5S will start in March for a launch in June/July. As word of the earlier production schedule starts to spread, we believe we could see a slight slowing of demand CQ1 in anticipation of the new product launch and Apple will likely start curtailing channel inventory."
Misek also made a similar report on the iPhone 5S in December 2012, claiming that it will sport a new super HD camera and screen, a better battery, near-field-communication (NFC), 128GB storage and comes in 6 to 8 colors.
Turning his focus on the low-cost iPhone, Misek states that the device "looks close to being greenlit or may already have been", and is likely to come with lower specs to bring the overall costs down.
Misek - "Similar to the iPad mini, we expect a concentrated low-cost iPhone rather than a "cheap" one. Likely specs: polycarbonite case with 4" non-Retina display and no LTE. We believe a new low-cost iPhone would increase Apple's share, decrease [gross margins], but have little impact on [earnings per share].
While Nikkei and The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Apple slashed its component orders for the iPhone 5 due to "weaker-than-expected demand", Misek offers another explanation. He believes that an assembly bottleneck in the weeks after the launch of the iPhone 5 has led to an oversupply of components, and that Apple is cutting down production in anticipation of the iPhone 5S.
Besides the alleged iPhone 5S and low-cost iPhone, Apple is also rumored to unveil the iPad 5 and next generation iPad mini in March.