Last Friday, Samsung released the Galaxy S5, its latest competitor to Apple’s iPhone. It’s a tempting phone, as our reviewer David Pogue concluded, one that merits your serious consideration if you’re shopping around for a new device.
But before you buy a Galaxy S5 — or, let’s be honest, if you’re an Apple devotee whose iPhone 4s is limping along — you might be wondering: Just when is the next iPhone coming out?
Our best guess: September.
Now, before I tell you why, let’s note that predicting a release date for an Apple product is an inexact science. Saying when the next iPhone will be released is much more complicated than, say, looking up when the Yankees next play the Red Sox. Like every other major tech company, Apple keeps its plans secret, so that its big reveal is surprising and creates some excitement.
(Also, more cynically, if everyone knew that the next iPhone was coming out in September, then no one would buy any iPhones in July or August. That’s bad for business!)
Anyway, even though you can’t just ask Siri when the next iPhone will be available, there are certain signposts you can turn to, to get a sense of timing. The first, and most obvious, is history: Apple historically releases its iPhones about one year apart. In 2013, it released the iPhone 5s on Sept. 20. In 2012, it released the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21. In 2011, it released the iPhone 4s on Oct. 14.
Sense a pattern?
Looking at that trend, you might conclude that you should expect the iPhone 6 (or whatever it is called) in September or October of 2014. In the seven years of the iPhone’s existence, Apple has switched up the timing only once, in 2010, when it waited an excruciating 16 months between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s.
Most Apple watchers think those days are over, however: Apple, the common wisdom goes, can’t wait 16 months between iPhones anymore. The competition has gotten too fierce. Shoppers would just buy a Galaxy or an HTC One rather than wait.
And while historical trends can provide some perspective, some inside information never hurts, either. Ming Chi-Kuo is an investment analyst for KGI Securities who follows Apple closely. In the past few years, he has proved that he has great sources at Apple: He is considered the most accurate predictor of Apple’s release schedule and future plans.
And wouldn’t you know it? In a recent note to clients, Kuo predicted that the next iPhone would be out early in the third quarter — September or early October. (Interestingly, he also thinks that the display on the next iPhone will be much larger than it is right now. But that’s a discussion for another day.)