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Apple's shares jump as launch of highly-anticipated iPhone X looms

The market has high-expectations for the upcoming iPhone
It's D-Day for Apple's new iPhone

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will launch its new iPhone later today at its bew headquarters in California and while much of the details have already been leaked there is still room for surprise.

Ahead of the announcement at 1pm EST (6pm BST), Apple shares edged up 0.2% to US$161.74 each in early US trading. 

Just days before the iPhone’s unveiling, Apple suffered a major leak that revealed the company would release three new versions of its handset.

The new iPhones will include a premium version, called the iPhone X to mark the device’s 10th anniversary, along with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

The iPhone X has been reported to be priced at about US$1,000 and include facial recognition that can be used to unlock the phone and replaces the fingerprint scanner.

It will include a high-definition 5.8 inch OLED edge-to-edge display featuring accommodations for the front camera, earpiece and 3D sensors, according to the leak.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are expected to be basic upgrades to the 7 and 7 Plus models and will feature wireless inductive charging, glass back panels and a new micro-processing chip.

iPhone X too expensive? 

Analysts have warned that Apple could deter customers by pricing the iPhone X too high. The rumoured price would be more than the MacBook Air and compares to a US$800 price tag for last year’s iPhone.

“This will undoubtedly test some consumers’ willingness to upgrade,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

“But Apple customers tend to be loyal and we also note that this price has been known to the market for several days, so should not come as a surprise to investors.”

Wilson said while Apple is not always first with technology, it packages its phones into a design and usability that continues to draw in customers.

Most Apple consumers are likely to be elastic to the price change but the UK market may be a special case given the pressure of rising inflation on disposable incomes, he added.

A weaker pound against the dollar will also mean UK consumers could pay about £800 for the iPhone X, a big mark up from last year’s £500.

Apple to tackle Chinese market after weak sales

In China, however, Wilson reckons the high specifications and high price point of the new iPhone should offer Apple a stronger, more differentiated position in this particular market.

Apple reported a 17% decline in China revenue last year, reflecting fierce competition.

If successful, the new iPhone is expected to give sales a boost and increase its market valuation. Some analysts have suggested Apple could become the first company to reach a US$1trn market capitalisation.

“As the company’s flagship product, the device, rumoured to be called the iPhone X, will be key to driving up its already-gigantic cash pile and overall profitability,” said Jordan Hiscott, chief trader at ayondo markets.

Rumoured iPhone specs not unique, says analyst

But Hiscott noted that some of the leaked specifications were nothing we haven’t seen already.

“In the 10 years since the iPhone first launched, many of the innovative features which it first brought to the market are longer unique and several of those rumoured to be on the iPhone X are already in existence; notably, the device being water resistant or having facial recognition software. “

“Could this, and the expectation that the model will cost over $1,000, dampen enthusiasm for the product? In my opinion, probably not, though it’s worth noting that Apple now appears to be positioning itself in the high-end/premium market, breaking with the tradition of trying to compete with the mass market deals of Android.”

A new Apple Watch and update to the AirPod wireless headphones are also expected to be unveiled.

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