A week from now, Apple will be announcing its sales figures for the past three months on its quarterly earnings call. Analysts think the company sold in upwards of 12 million iPads and 33 million iPhones, thanks to the continuous momentum of the new 4S.

But according to Goldman Sachs’ Bill Shope, Apple’s next smartphone launch is the one to watch. The analyst recently raised his Apple stock price target from $700 to $750 on the belief that the sixth-generation iPhone launch is the most important one ever…

In a note to investors yesterday, Shope wrote: “The iPhone 5 launch is likely to be one of the most important smartphone product cycles we’ve seen to date.” And considering all of the expectations that Apple has to live up to, he might just be right.

First of all, the entire tech world thought that Apple’s last iPhone was going to receive a radical makeover. But all of the reports and third-party cases that supported that theory quickly faded from memory as Apple introduced the familiar-looking 4S.

Obviously, with the help of Siri, the holidays and other factors, the device still sold in record numbers. But if you think that Apple will be able to pull that off again — release another iPhone 4-like handset with a minor spec bump — you’re high.

Secondly, you have to realize that Apple has sold more iPhone 4S’ in the last 6 months than it has of any iPhone model ever before. In fact it’s sold more iPhones period. So it’s either going to have to convince a lot of other platform users — Android, BlackBerry, etc. — to switch to the iPhone, or a lot of current iPhone users to upgrade. And at this point, that’s a pretty tall order.

Mix in the fact that investors are already unsteady about Apple’s ability to keep up its ridiculous growth pace — its market cap is more than double what it was last year — and that piles on even more pressure for the company to deliver a hit.

Thus far, rumors regarding Apple’s next smartphone are fairly scattered. Some say it will have a 4-inch screen, others say it will be made of liquid metal. But if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that it’s going to be impressive. Apple has a lot riding on it.

  • I know I’m waiting to see what the next iPhone is before I upgrade. I still have a 4 because I didn’t want another of the same model with a new coat of paint, basically. If the next one isn’t pretty different, I’ll probably go with a Galaxy 3. :/

    • Kok Hean

      They have a huge difference in speed. You probably won’t realise it if it’s in stock firmware, but when jailbroken and have tons of tweaks installed, you will see the difference.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a weird comment. It’s still the best looking phone and has as good a specs as any other top tier phone out there. You seem to have more of a problem with perception more than anything else.

      • If I’m going to pay $300+ for a phone, I want it to be different than the one I’m giving up. I’m sorry, but the 4S isn’t that phone. I hope the 5 is.

      • CANF800SL CANF800SL

        I don’t think a square box with rounded corners is best looking. The 3GS with a curved back cover was revolutionary in design.

    • Anonymous

      yeah galaxy s3 is the one to beat, i duno if apple will bring the hardware… (especially camera and screen size)

    • CANF800SL CANF800SL

      Agreed… If the iPhone 5 (whatever) cannot beat a 4.6-inch retina display at 720 x 1184 resolution (320 dpi), quad-core 1.4 GHz processor & 8-megapixel camera, I am buying a Samsung Galaxy 3.

  • Anonymous

    Now that AT&T is unlocking I will likely upgrade my iPhone 4 in October. Pass it on to the kids as an emergency phone, gaming platform, iPod. If it had Pokemon on it, they would likely ditch the DS. no need to buy them a iPod.

    Others could likely get at least $200 for an iPhone 4 on the used market. Can’t see a reason not to upgrade if you are eligable.

  • Anonymous

    ” But if you think that Apple will be able to pull that off again — release another iPhone 4-like handset with a minor spec bump — you’re high.”

    Nope, I was high when I bought the 4S and thinking it was a substantial upgrade to the 4. Apple can release another spec bump phone and it will sell in record numbers. Seen it time and time again.

    • Only people who get sucked in by apple’s marketing or people that have more money than sense upgrade ( and it wasn’t much of an upgrade before ) from one thing to a minor changed similar looking product.

      • Anonymous

        Well I bought the 4 off contract on Craigslist for $400. And when the 4S was released I was eligible for an upgrade and I sold the 4 for $350 and bought the 4S for $399. So money wasn’t really an issue (only $50 more for an upgraded phone) my only regret is signing another contract…

  • Anonymous

    I woul like to see an analysis by the experts on what impact AT&T new policy on unlocking will have on the used iPhone market.

  • CAN I count on it to be impressive?

  • As there are may rumors around about new iPhone release, The best features they should provide are:
    1. 4G Enabled
    2. 3D Camera
    3. A5X Processor
    4. An upgraded iOS which fairly inherits features from OSX.
    5. More main memory
    6. Design change

    and many more…:P

    • Anonymous

      3d camera? lol
      3D HYPE comes and goes every ~20 years.. and right now it is going away

    • I doubt it will have a 3D camera or a upgraded iOS. IOS 6 will probably stay the same with just a few more features and bugs fixed. Maybe a new design, but nothing radical like people have spread rumors about. It’s Apple, you have to think about how they design their stuff. It’s very minimal. I personally hope it to have the aluminum back of the iPad.

    • I want the old 3GS curve design again!

    • CANF800SL CANF800SL

      A5X Processor when smartphones are going quad-core? makes no sense.

  • Don’t say the 4S is the same:

    -Dual core A5 processor, 7x faster in speed
    -8 Megapixel camera
    -Faster data speeds
    -Siri
    -Better sensors, everything internal basically changed
    -Better battery life
    -Louder speakers
    -Bluetooth 4.0
    -Wireless hotspot
    -1080P video recording
    -Face detection and gyro stabilization for the camera

    • Not a better battery life!
      iPhone 4 standby time : 300 hours
      iPhone 4s: 200

      • Kok Hean

        Even though the battery life is poor, I can still have it at around 90+ percent of battery in a day if I browse the web, played games, and send text messages. But if the temperature is WARM, the battery will drain. Annoying. With that, I suggest that people would rather get some Android phone with a better battery life, or the iPhone 4.

    • Anonymous

      4S has had its own battery issues. And wireless hotspot is available on iP4 as well. The major selling points are camera and siri. 4S is a great smartphone for new buyers, but not a significant upgrade over iP4. 4S is to 4 what iphone 3GS was to iphone 3G.

  • I don’t think it will have MUCH of a redesign, but may e a little! I hope they design it like the iPad 2 or ‘The New iPad’ with the same alimunium back. And it will for sure have the A5X chip in it. The New iPad has it, so the iPhone will too. I wonder if they will upgrade the iPod touch ( not iTouch) as well.

  • my next iphone uprgade is going to be when holograms start shooting out of the screen and a laser keyboard pops out when you start typing. everything else is just a minor upgrade for me

  • Not to mention that android has really bridged the gap over the years with new releases of its operating system. I have been an iPhone user since day 1 owning every newly released model. In November after buying and owning the 4s for over a month I decided to buy an unlocked GSM version of the galaxy nexus and its quite impressive. I find myself using it more than my 4s however there are still many reasons why I could never switch from iPhone full time. The app quality on android is almost laughable but their OS has really made strides. I really want apple to release some additional functionality within iOS 6 that is all too common on android such as better app integration and several other small things.

  • People seem to forget that Apple does not build the phone to beat the one that came out last year. The upgrade cycle is based on contract length. In America that time line is two years, in Canada it’s three years. The iPhone 5 only has to be a big leap from the iPhone 4 not the 4S. The 4S has done really well because it was time for American 3GS owners and Canadian iphone 3G owners to upgrade. The analysts said the 4S was a disappointment. They will say the 5 is as well because they will be comparing it to the wrong device. When the analysts finally wake up and realize that most of the world waits for their contract to be up before upgrading they will understand that these phones are not a disappointment and why they are selling so well.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. Its all about a significant overhaul every 2 years. By the way, they seem to follow suit with other products like the iPod touch and iPad as well. Every 2 years, there is a redesign and a significant upgrade.

    • CANF800SL CANF800SL

      This does not make logical sense. People will not wait 2 years to upgrade their phones. This puts all Advertisers and Marketing companies to shame. Don’t tell me you are waiting for the next generation iPhone and you are still using an iPhone 3GS because you are on contract with AT&T. Don’t tell me I can’t upgrade to the new iPhone 4S just because I am using a 1 year old iPhone 4.

  • Because I didn’t upgrade my iPhone 4 for the iPhone 4S 🙂