According to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, Apple’s biggest growth driver in 2012 will be the iPhone 5, a product that doesn’t officially exist yet, but one that Wu claims will feature 4G LTE technology along with “a sleeker, thinner form factor, and a slightly larger screen.”
Now 4G smartphones are already plentiful in the marketplace, but they offer notoriously poor battery life. In one particularly telling review, an 4G based Android smartphone sucked up so much battery life that it continued to drain the battery even while plugged into a car. Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that Apple wasn’t going to jump on the 4G bandwagon just yet because of poor battery life performance. And as we saw with 3G, Apple doesn’t mind coming a little bit late to the party in an effort to maximize the user experience.
In light of that ,Wu feels that Apple’s vertically integrated business model will help Apple avoid the battery problems that have plagued a number of 4G based smartphones.
“In terms of battery life issues and spotty network coverage that plague shipping 4G LTE smart phones today,” Wu writes, “our supplier sources indicate that AAPL can derive superior performance with its ownership of core intellectual property including systems design, semiconductors, battery chemistry, and software.”
Wu anticipates the iPhone 5 will drop sometime in late Summer or in the Fall (way to hedge your bets there, Wu) and that Apple’s growth in 2012 will further be fueled by an iPhone deal with China Mobile (the largest carrier in the world) along with the possibility of an Apple branded HDTV.
Wu maintains a “Buy” rating on Apple shares and has a $500 price target for the stock.
With respect to rumors of a redesigned iPhone 5, BGR reported two weeks ago that the iPhone 5 will feature a complete redesign and will include a 4-inch screen.
We have also learned that Apple is planning to use a rubber or plastic material — similar to the material used in the company’s bumper cases — that will be built into the new iPhone case. In all likelihood, this material will be used as a bezel surrounding the front edge of the phone (like the iPhone 3GS bezel) and it will serve two purposes. First, it will join the glass iPhone face with a new aluminum back plate. It will also cover a redesigned antenna system that surrounds the device, allowing Apple to build the rear case out of aluminum without having to use a large plastic insert above the antennas as the company does on its iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G.
Notably, previous reports relayed that Apple had already tapped Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi Displays to provide 4-inch LCD displays for its upcoming iPhone. Another rumor claimed that the iPhone 5 will be approximately 8mm longer than the iPhone 4S.