Only 13% of smartphones sold in the first half of 2020 had 5G capabilities, and only 6% of customers would rank 5G as a primary factor in their next smartphone purchase, according to Ben Stanton, an analyst at research firm Canalys.
“Apple is not too late to 5G, as smartphones with 5G have not yet seen mass adoption,” Stanton told CNN Business. “Part of the reason for this is that the killer use-case for 5G on mobile has not yet emerged.”
Four new iPhones
“Apple has made a serious effort to make its hardware more price-competitive over the last 12 months,” Stanton said. “But Apple’s great challenge is that it needs to find a way to become more price-competitive without diluting its premium brand image.”
The top end of the new iPhone range could also provide a big draw, with its rumored 6.7-inch display that’s even larger than the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max.
“In particular we are seeing Apple and its Asian suppliers anticipate stepped-up demand for the larger 6.7-inch model which is raising the overall iPhone 12 expectations heading into this ‘once in a decade’ potential launch,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in an investor note last week.
Wedbush estimates that 350 million of the 950 million iPhones globally could be due for an upgrade, which could lead to an “unprecedented” cycle.
The last major iPhone “super cycle” of upgrades happened in 2014 with the iPhone 6, said Daniel Morgan, VP and senior portfolio manager at Synovus. “Since 2014, the newest iPhone launches have felt more like ripples [as] opposed to a wave.”
Eyes on the price
Apple could use the 5G features to justify a slightly higher price point for the iPhone 12, but the fact that it is expected to release four iPhone variants rather than the three could mean a more affordable offering is in the works as well.
One more thing?
When it comes to Apple events, it’s rarely just about the phones.
“One thing that is certain, is that Apple will again showcase the best-practice for virtual events, and set a standard for the industry to follow,” he added.