Entire ‘iPhone 13’ Lineup Expected to Launch Third Week of September with Massive 1TB Storage Tier

iPhone 13 Pro Max Concept Render Credit: Vova LD / @ld_vova
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Although it’s pretty much a given that we’ll see this year’s iPhone lineup debut at some point next month, a new report from supply chain sources is nailing things down to a more specific timeframe, suggesting that all the new models will arrive by the third week of September.

This latest news comes in a research note from Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, shared by MacRumors, who also adds that the 1TB storage option is indeed a go for this year.

This year’s “iPhone 13” models are expected to feature some incredible camera upgrades, larger batteries, support for mmWave in more countries, and upgraded 120Hz LTPO displays in the Pro models, which will also likely include always-on capabilities.

Pricing is also expected to remain the same as last year, with the “iPhone 13 mini” starting at $699 and the “iPhone 12 Pro” at $999, although it remains unclear what the starting storage capacities will be.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to guess that Apple’s iPhone launch will happen in September, as that’s been the timeframe for almost every single iPhone launched since the iPhone 5 arrived on September 21, 2012. Only last year’s iPhone 12 release was an exception, which was fairly obviously a result of the global health pandemic — and something Apple had pre-warned investors about several weeks earlier.

There’s actually a reason that Apple chooses September to launch its new products, as it comes right in at the end of a fiscal quarter. The whole reason that Apple had to give investors a heads-up about last year’s iPhone 12 delay was because it was going to seriously impact revenue for Q4 2020 compared to prior years, since Apple’s best-selling product wouldn’t be released until October, which was the beginning of Apple’s Q1 2021.

To be clear, Ives’ estimate appears to be pointing to the new iPhones will go on sale, and not to when Apple will be holding its actual iPhone event. This also lines up with previous September releases.

In most prior years, Apple had held an event to announce the new iPhone models in the second week in September, with pre-orders starting on the Friday of that same week, and the new iPhones landing in stores the following Friday.

All Four Models Are on Track

All that having been said, with Apple releasing as many as four different iPhone models, there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be available right away. In fact, since Apple began offering a wider array of iPhone models in 2017 with the introduction of the iPhone X, only the iPhone 11 lineup has seen every model go on sale at the same time.

We may never know for sure what Apple’s plans were for the iPhone 12 last year, since the COVID-19 pandemic messed everything up. The entire launch announcement was delayed into October, and then only the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models were ready to go right away.

Customers who wanted the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini or the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max had to wait until November — one factor that may have contributed to poor sales of the smaller model.

However, we’ve been hearing for months that Apple plans to release the whole “iPhone 13” lineup at the same time this year, and there was already every reason to believe that was going to be in September, as Apple hasn’t held an iPhone announcement more than 2–3 weeks in advance of the product’s release since the original iPhone debuted in 2007.

According to Ives, Apple has its supply chain ready to build as many as 150 million new iPhones from now until the end of 2021, although this includes new stock for the older models that Apple will undoubtedly still be selling, such as the iPhone 11 and likely the iPhone 12.

Our recent Asia supply chain checks for 2H put iPhone builds between 130M-150M. The iPhone 13 appears to represent 35%-45% of iPhone builds in Q3, this positive outlook gives us enhanced confidence that 2021’s launch timing will be “normal”. From a timing perspective, we believe the current iPhone 13 launch is slated for the third week in September.

Daniel Ives, Wedbush analyst

For this quarter alone, however, Ives notes that the “iPhone 13” makes up between 35–45% of the overall production, which suggests that Apple will have somewhere between 45.5 million and 67.5 million iPhone 13 models in stock and ready to go by the time the new models go on sale next month.

What’s much less clear is what the breakdown will be between the four different devices that Apple plans to release. We’re expecting the new 2021 iPhones to follow the same designs and sizes as last year’s iPhones, which means we’re going to be seeing a 5.4-inch “iPhone 13 mini,” 6.1-inch “iPhone 13,” 6.1-inch “iPhone 13 Pro,” and 6.7-inch “iPhone 13 Pro Max.”

While it’s still very hard to be certain what numbering Apple is going to use this year, it’s a very safe bet that the mini/Pro/Max designations will remain.

While Apple should have a pretty good idea of what to build based on last year’s iPhone 12 demand, it’s the smallest 5.4-inch iPhone that will present the most interesting quandary. The original 5.4-inch model has sold so poorly that rumours of its cancellation began circulating in early February, and Apple ended up massively slashing its production by March, choosing to focus on the more popular 6.1-inch models instead.

It’s hard to say whether this year’s 5.4-inch iPhone release is a deliberate attempt to give the smaller iPhone one more kick at the can or if Apple was simply too far along to reverse course, but we suspect it’s the former. Apple already knew that the smallest iPhone wasn’t doing well months ago, and it likely had plenty of time to cut it out of the lineup had it really wanted to.

However, this year, more users are ripe for an upgrade to a new iPhone, and customers will be able to do real hands-on comparisons in stores to choose their preferred model, rather than jumping on the 6.1-inch version because they prefer not to wait. This allows Apple one last chance to see if there really is demand for a 5.4-inch iPhone.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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