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Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities, says we can expect big things from Apple later this year. Kuo published a research report forecasting what new products Apple will announce, and they include an improved iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone. Not that we expected anything less.
Beyond merely providing general guidance, however, Kuo is predicting features and even components for the new Apple gear. According to Macrumors, Kuo has a solid track record for accuracy, so it is possible his forecasts are in the ballpark.
First, there will be not one, but two new iPhones. The iPhone 5S will be a high-end model with improved specs throughout. Kuo believes the iPhone 5S will have an A7 processor for faster speed and better power management, a fingerprint sensor and an improved camera. (If the presence of a fingerprint scanner puzzles you, remember that Apple purchased AuthenTec, make of such scanners, last year.)
The second device will be an iPhone 5 that uses a cheaper, plastic enclosure rather than the aluminum one used today. This plastic enclosure will be a bit thicker (8.2 mm compared to 7.6 mm), and will be available in six colors. This particular bit of Kuo's forecast coincides with recent reports about a cheaper iPhone. These new iPhones may debut as soon as June or July. That would be a few months earlier than the September/October timeframe when Apple announced the iPhone 4S (in 2011) and iPhone 5 (in 2012).
[ What would it take for Apple to cut the iPhone's cost? See 8 Ways Apple Could Make A Cheaper iPhone. ]
The iPad and iPad Mini will be updated, as well. The full-sized iPad will make significant improvements in size and weight. It will be slimmer and lighter than the current model, and may adopt slimmer bezels similar to those of the iPad Mini. Kuo did not provide other details about what features might be included.
The iPad Mini will remain mostly as it is today, but will be given a Retina Display. The first-gen iPad Mini's 1024 x 768 pixel display is one of the device's weak points.
The fourth-generation iPod Touch will be sliced from Apple's lineup. Apple will continue to sell the current fifth-generation model, but will offer a scaled-back version with less storage and no camera, to fill in the pricing gap.
As far as Apple's laptops go, the MacBook Air will likely not get a Retina Display this year thanks to its thin design, though it will see a processor bump. Kuo believes all the MacBook Pros will include Retina Displays this year.
It will be months before Kuo's accuracy in these predictions can be assessed. They feel right, but you simply never know with Apple until it actually announces things.