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On a recent trip to visit with tech suppliers in Asia, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty received word that multiple new iPhone models will begin production the June-July timeframe.
Apple's new handsets are likely to launch around September, the analyst believes, based on her meetings in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The information aligns with a separate report published on Tuesday that claimed Sharp would begin mass production of so-called "iPhone 5S" LCD displays in June.
In addition to the anticipated iPhone 5 successor, Apple is also rumored to be working on a new low-end iPhone that would be targeted at customers who are not interested in carrier contract subsidies. Huberty's note provided to AppleInsider on Wednesday suggested that Apple could achieve strong sales of a low-end iPhone in China, even if the device were sold for above the market "sweet spot" of about $160 U.S.
As for Apple's current iPhone lineup, Huberty received word that iPhone 5 shipments are now in line with expectations. That's a change from months ago, when supply chain sources were claiming of reduced orders of the iPhone 5, and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook even publicly said it was a mistake to attempt to decipher supply chain data.
"After a slow start, iPhone 5, is now on track to meet carrier volume expectations and iPhone 4 price cuts could stimulate incremental demand near-term," Huberty wrote. "Carriers see the opportunity for Apple to expand market coverage with 5-inch and lower-priced iPhones over time. TD-LTE licenses, and related phone launches, are expected by year-end."
Morgan Stanley has advised investors with an "overweight" rating for AAPL stock, and a price target of $540.