Were you one of the millions that turned in your old handset last October to get your hands on the iPhone 4S? That might have been a huge mistake if the latest iPhone 5 rumor is correct.
Apple’s primary manufacturer, Foxconn, is said to be hiring 18,000 new employees for its plant in Taiyuan, China, as the company prepares to begin work on the next generation iPhone, the so-called iPhone 5. A Foxconn recruiter, however, states these employees aren’t being hired for a fall launch of Apple’s popular smart phone. Instead, the new hires are being told that the next iPhone will launch in June, according to Macotakara (via Apple Insider).
Says this recruiter: ”That’s right. (the next iPhone) will come out in June.”
Recent iPhone buyers don’t want a June iPhone 5 release
Prior to the company’s launch of the iPhone 4S last October, Apple has launched each of their new handsets in June (or July, in the case of the iPhone 3G in 2008).
Assuming the Foxconn recruiter story is correct, this is great news for Apple traditionalists who like to see new iPhones launch at Apple’s WWDC conference. For recent iPhone 4S buyers, however, this news could prove unfortunate.
The iPhone, like most contract phones, typically carry a two-year contract. For this, customers receive the handset at a subsidized price, which is hundreds of dollars less than the phone’s actual cost. With the iPhone 4S debuting in October 2011, these customers would almost certainly not qualify for a subsidized upgrade to the iPhone 5, assuming it launches in June 2012. The same would go for customers who purchased the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS at reduced prices ($99 and $1, respectively), which kicked in last fall.
Fall iPhone 5 launch best for current iPhone owners
Most likely, Apple will launch the next iPhone this fall, thereby allowing many iPhone 4S owners to upgrade.
But, you might ask, what about the two-year contract? After the first year, carriers are much more willing to void an existing contract if it means signing a customer up for another two-year contact. This is especially true now that three U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint and Verizon) carry the iPhone.
As we indicated last October, upgrade eligibility isn’t just tied to the date the contract was originally signed.
According to TNW, who spoke to AT&T representatives at the time, upgrade eligibility is based on several factors. These include:
Your billing history – If you have defaulted on your account or been late in payments, then this could lengthen the ‘early upgrade’ wait period for you. If, on the other hand, you were a loyal paying customer who has a history of paying when due, that could shorten the period.
The length of your contract – Yes, how long you’ve been on contract is still a factor in this. If you’ve only been on contract 6 months, it is unlikely that you will see an upgrade plan.
A “variety of other factors” – They would not specify what these were.
We feel pretty confident that today’s rumor is only that, and the next iPhone will arrive sometime this fall and not in June. Most likely, the Foxconn recruiter meant that production of the iPhone 5 would begin in June, with a worldwide release coming later in the year.
Would you be upset to see Apple launch its next iPhone in June, or would you rather they wait until later in the year?
(Photo: iPhone 5 concept by Free iPhone 4S Giveaway)