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PiperJaffray: 28nm chip shortages unlikely to impact Apple's next iPhone

A new report from investment bank PiperJaffray claims 28nm chip shortages at Qualcomm are unlikely to keep Apple from releasing a next-generation iPhone with a "completely redesigned body style" in October.

"The bottom line is that we remain comfortable with an October iPhone 5 launch despite the reported 28nm chip shortage at Qualcomm," analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider on Monday.

Qualcomm is widely expected to provide the baseband chip for the next-generation iPhone. Both the iPhone 4S and the third-generation 4G iPad make use of Qualcomm cellular chips. Munster reported last month that Qualcomm's supply issues with its LTE chips would prevent Apple's next handset from being released any earlier than October of this year.

According to the note, the firm estimates an 80 percent chance that iPhone sales will meet its forecast of 49 million units in the December 2012 quarter. Even if Apple was affected by shortages, Munster expressed belief that iPhone sales would simply be shifted into the March 2013 quarter and beyond.

"We believe it would be unlikely that a consumer would choose to buy another phone if they are unable to get an iPhone 5 due to short term supply constraints given past launches with limited supply," he wrote.

PiperJaffray reiterated on Monday its Overweight rating for Apple and a $910 price target.

Munster suggested that Apple's size could help it achieve "favored inventory status" that would lessen the blow from any production woes that Qualcomm is experiencing. The firm also pointed to Apple's "past experience in dealing with potentially limited components at launch" as reason to believe that the company will remain relatively impervious to the shortage.

Munster ended his note with his thoughts on the possible specifications of Apple's next iPhone. He believes the redesigned iPhone may "more closely resemble the metal rear panel of the current iPad." He also said there is a 50 percent chance that the next iPhone will have a screen larger than four inches.

"Beyond the redesigned body and screen, we believe the new phone will include 4G LTE, upgraded processor and memory, and a higher megapixel camera," he added.

Several major media outlets reported last week that the sixth-generation iPhone will feature a larger display. The Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple had been placing orders for screens measuring "at least 4 inches diagonally." Subsequent reports claimed that the displays could be built as soon as June and that late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had "worked closely" on the design of the device before his death last October.

Munster's predictions are largely in line with those of his his fellow analysts. Multiple investment firms have suggested that Apple will release a redesigned iPhone with LTE in September or October.