Apple Inc on Tuesday is expected to show new iPhone and Apple Watch models with slight upgrades, and analysts expect that wireless carriers will play an outsized role in the annual show as they try to entice consumers into 5G plans.
Apple last year introduced its iPhone 12, which featured a new look and its first devices with 5G connectivity. This year, analysts expect modest hardware upgrades and a deeper focus on 5G.
In particular, carriers such as AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications and T-Mobile that have significantly built out their networks since the start of this year are likely to offer new incentives around the devices that can take advantage of the faster speeds those networks can offer, said Ben Bajarin, head of consumer technologies at Creative Strategies.
“There seems to be way more (5G network capacity) than was in place even six months ago,” Bajarin said. “They want people upgrading. They’re going to be really aggressive.”
Apple’s biggest product launch of the year comes as some of the shine has come off its stock as business practices such as charging software developers commissions on in-app payments have come under regulatory scrutiny.
Apple shares were up about 15.6% year to date, trailing the Nasdaq Composite Index, which was up nearly 19% over the same period.
The iPhone 13, as analysts expect the new phone to be called, likely will not look much different on the outside from the iPhone 12. But analysts expect it to have faster wi-fi and processor chips, and Bloomberg has reported that the top model is likely to focus on display and camera enhancements such as a “Portrait Mode” to blur backgrounds when shooting videos.
Analysts also believe Apple will continue the steady updates to its Apple Watch, which has become a cornerstone of its $30.6 billion accessories segment, which was up 25% in Apple’s most recent fiscal year even as its iPhone revenue declined slightly.
Analysts widely believe that Apple users who buy more than one product — such as an Apple Watch and iPhone — are more likely to stick with the brand and spend on the company’s apps and services.
Apple is likely to focus on more fitness features with the watch, which is paired tightly with Apple Fitness+, a paid service offering guided workouts with Apple instructors.
“It’s the one service they offer where you literally have to have this product or you can’t use this service,” Bajarin said.