When considering the purchase of an Apple product, whether it is an iPhone, an iPad, or a iPod, the first question that often springs to mind is: will I be getting the most for my money or is a more powerful model coming out soon that I'll want? Though we can't say for sure what the the company has coming next, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has laid out his (often correct) predictions for the year. And, based on these predictions, we can offer advice about your next Apple purchase.
The most important prediction from Mr. Kuo is that we can probably expect a new iPhone this summer. It will likely have a faster processor, a better camera, and an innovative new fingerprint sensor to act as a security measure to access the phone. If Apple follows their current pricing structure, the iPhone 4S will become the new free-with-contract option and the iPhone 5 will be the $99-with-contract option.
If you are going to go with a free-with-contract iPhone, you may want to wait until the iPhone 4S becomes that option in the summer. It's superior to the 4 in a number of ways: it has a better camera (8 megapixels instead of 5 megapixels), more memory (16GB instead of 8 GB), and it features the voice assistant Siri.
If you are interested in a $99-with-contract iPhone (currently the 4S), you may also want to wait until summer for the iPhone 5 for its larger screen, lighter weight, and faster processor.
But if you're a budget shopper, one recent rumor makes the right iPhone choice a tough call. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Apple may offer a budget iPhone by the end of the year. This budget-level iPhone would have all the power of an iPhone 5 in a cheaper plastic case and likely be available without a monthly contract — and at less than the iPhone 5's $650 and up off-contract cost. If you don't want to commit to a two-year mobile contract, this may be the iPhone you've been waiting for.
According to Kuo, instead of announcing a new 6th generation iPod touch, the current 5th gen iPod will remain the flagship model for the line and the older 4th generation will be retired and replaced with a stripped down 5th generation model.
This budget 5th gen version will likely have 8GB of storage capacity (compared to the current 5th generation's 32 & 64GB options and the 4th generation's 16 & 32GB option) and no rear camera. Without the camera, photos and videos won't take up the bulk of the memory storage as they often do, leaving the lean 8GB of memory for apps and music.
iPad and iPad mini
Apple's tablets are predicted to see only small improvements this summer except for the iPad mini screen likely getting upgraded to Retina display. Nothing rumored about the new models impresses us, but if you're in the market for a new Apple tablet, it may be worth waiting for the current models to become budget models this summer.
Remember, these are all predictions. Your best bet when considering your next Apple purchase is your own financial situation and mobile device needs. But with Apple's track record of upgrading their signature products every year, holding off 6 more months to see what's new and what becomes the budget option may be the smart choice if you don't have to buy right now.