With Apple's latest launch happening, as we speak, the company is set to unveil new iPhones, hoping to refresh interest in premium smartphones amidst a languishing market.
The tight-lipped tech titan recently invited the media to "gather round" for a special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in California. Likely a nod to Cupertino’s new spaceship campus where the reveal will take place, the golden circle could also suggest a new colour for this year’s lineup.
Based on the rumour mill, Apple fans can expect three new handsets – a "less expensive" ($699) 6.1-inch model with LCD screen (iPhone 9?), as well as 5.8-inch ($799) and 6.5-inch ($999) successors to the iPhone X.
But can modest improvements and posh price tags help the world’s most valuable company (worth more than $1 trillion) regain its top spot among global vendors?
The US-based firm has slipped to third place, behind Asian smartphone makers Samsung and Huawei. Analysts – and likely Apple CEO, Tim Cook – believe Apple’s tried-and-true formula works well enough to retain a loyal customer base and steady sales.
"There is nothing in their product line-up that isn’t working for them in the premium segment of the market, so there is no imperative for them to break that mould," NPD analyst, Stephen Baker, told AFP.
"They gobble up most of the profits," he continued. "I don’t think they are under any pressure at all."
Technalysis Research chief analyst, Bob O'Donnell, agreed, adding that "Apple doesn’t have to prove anything, other than that they are willing to segment the market more."
The fresh iPhones are rumoured to use Apple's new A12 processor with beefed-up GPU performance for augmented reality applications, and will likely run Intel’s 7560 modems. Customers can also look forward to up to 512GB of storage, a 12-megapixel camera sensor, and 2x optical zoom.
Sandwiched between Samsung's unwrapping of its flagship Galaxy Note 9 handset and the upcoming launch of new Android-powered Google Pixel phones, Apple's big moment must shine.
According to AFP, the global smartphone market is "largely saturated," with no major catalyst for sales before next year’s scheduled rollout of fifth-generation wireless networks.
In fact, research firm IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to decline 0.7% in 2018 to 1.455 billion units; growth should return again as 5G devices become available.