By all accounts, the iPhone X is doing well for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). And the one-two punch of the radically new iPhone X and the iPhone 8 is seeing enough iPhones moving off shelves to kick AAPL stock into record-high territory.
But what about next year?
Rumors are already flying about Apple’s plans to keep consumers buying new iPhones in 2018. The strategy seems to be going big, with a 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus and 6.1-inch iPhone 9 added to the lineup.
Early Rumblings of a 6.5-inch iPhone
At the end of August — before Apple had even unveiled the iPhone X — a report emerged from South Korea’s ETNews. Citing unnamed industry sources, the report claimed that Apple was working with Samsung on next-generation OLED displays in 5.85-inch and 6.48-inch sizes.
That would equate to what would be announced in September as the iPhone X, but also a larger model even bigger than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8: an iPhone X Plus.
New Report Calls for iPhone X Plus and New 6.1-inch iPhone 9
One of the more respected names in Apple predictions, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, just released a new research note which was picked up by MacRumors.
In it, Kuo suggests Apple will launch a trio of new iPhones in 2018, all based on the general design of this years iPhone X. That means a notched display, and TrueDepth cameras across the lineup, with Face ID replacing Touch ID altogether.
Naturally, there would be a second generation iPhone X. Currently priced at $999+ as Apple’s most expensive ever offering, the iPhone X would become the standard model. Those with even deeper pockets or the desire for the most screen real estate possible could opt for an iPhone X Plus, with a massive 6.5-inch OLED display.
Where things get even more interesting are with Kuo’s prediction that Apple will also release a more budget-friendly ($649 – $749) 6.1-inch model that looks like the iPhone X, but uses a cheaper and lower resolution LCD display instead of OLED.
While Kuo doesn’t come out and say it, this lower cost option could be the iPhone 9.
Why Does Apple Need an iPhone X Plus?
With iPhone sales making up the lion’s share of Apple revenue (and subsequently driving AAPL stock), the company is always laser-focused on how to keep that train rolling.
One thing Apple has undoubtedly noticed is that Samsung does very well with its Galaxy Note series phablets –the Galaxy Note 7 battery disaster notwithstanding. These super-sized smartphones sell particularly well in Asian markets, where a smartphone often replaces a PC for its owner.
Despite having the largest display ever on an iPhone, some iPhone X owners have noticed it actually feels smaller. That’s because the 5.8-inches is based on a standard diagonal measurement. The iPhone X display is longer and narrower than ever and overall, the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus actually has more screen real estate.
With an iPhone X Plus at 6.5-inches, Apple could make a flagship iPhone with a display that truly feels huge, in a form factor about the same size as its current Plus models.
The iPhone X Plus would serve multiple purposes. A 6.5-inch iPhone would compete directly against Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 in 2018. It would also offer an iPhone option in a size class that competitors like Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google currently lack.
If the iPhone 9 were to also adopt the same form factor and Face ID, that would unify Apple’s iPhone lineup once again in terms of features (other than the budget level iPhone SE). Doing so cuts costs. Apple would presumably get volume pricing on the True Depth camera modules if they were in all three new iPhones, and assembly would be more standardized.
But even more importantly for iPhone revenue and AAPL stock, having an iPhone X Plus gives iPhone X buyers a reason to upgrade in 2018. And the iPhone 9 adopting key features like Face ID at a lower price point may convince those who are finding the iPhone X too pricey, to upgrade in 2018.
Ming-Chi Kuo also points out that AAPL’s supply chain will be experienced with the challenges of iPhone X production by next year, so the iPhone X, iPhone Plus and iPhone 9 should be readily available at launch, unlike this year.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.