‘The most significant iPhone event in years’

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Source: Apple Inc.

On Tuesday, Apple is holding a launch event where it will reveal this year’s iPhone lineup. 

In most years, Apple announces its iPhones in September, and they go on sale shortly after that. This year is different. Apple instead released new Apple Watches last month and pushed the iPhone announcement to October. The delay is an outgrowth of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted electronics manufacturing and forced most Apple employees to work from home. 

Still, this year’s iPhone launch is significant. It is expected to include the first major exterior redesign since 2017, when Apple released the iPhone X with facial recognition. This year’s models will feature iPad-like edges with flatter sides, compared with the gently curving sides of the current iPhones. 

Apple is also expected to release four separate iPhones at different screen sizes and prices — a much wider range of devices than in the past.

Finally, at least some new iPhones will support 5G cellular networks, which promise faster download times (although the networks aren’t fully built out yet in the U.S., which could disappoint some users.)

The last time Apple made such big changes to the iPhone was 2014, when the iPhone 6 came out with bigger screens and two different sizes. That prompted a major upgrade cycle — a so-called “super-cycle” — with over 231 million iPhones sold in the next four quarters. That remained the annual unit sales record until Apple stopped reporting unit sales in 2018. 

So this year’s changes have investors and analysts predicting a big upgrade cycle that will make Apple an even more valuable company.

“We expect this fall’s launch to be the most significant iPhone event in years,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note this week. She’s forecasting Apple to ship about 220 million iPhones in its fiscal 2021, which would be up 22% year-over-year according to the Morgan Stanley model.

Here’s what to look for on Tuesday.

Four iPhones, including a new iPhone Mini

Morgan Stanley analysts are expecting an iPhone lineup of 4 new devices, including:

  • iPhone 12 Mini, a new device with a 5.4-inch screen. This would be the smallest iPhone since the company…