What Does Apple’s 8GB iPhone 4 Mean for the Dual iPhone 4S/5 Rumor?

Mark Gurman over at 9to5Mac posted an interesting article yesterday that revealed a new apparition in Apple’s own inventory system. As we all know from past experiences, rumors and bits of evidence like this are usually easily questioned. But 9to5Mac seems to have come across a piece of iPhone 5 intel that seems c credible.

The article concerns the appearance of new iPhone and iPod Touch devices showing up in Apple’s inventory listing. Let’s leave aside the iPod Touch evidence (we’ll leave that to the iPod Touch rumor mill to parse), and just look at what Gurman and 9to5Mac have unearthed concerning the new iPhone.

According to their article, “Even more interesting are the two new iPhone SKUs that have showed up in the system. The catch is that these two SKUs are actually marked as tweaked iPhone 4s.” It’s important to note here that Gurman isn’t talking about the “iPhone 4S” — the rumored refresh model of the iPhone — but rather iPhone 4 in the plural sense. He goes on to explain that the new SKUs indicate an 8GB iPhone 4: “The new device’s codename is N90A and this represents very minor changes from the iPhone 4 – which is the N90. In fact, this may be an iPhone 4 – an 8GB version as previously rumored. It is very possible that the two SKUs mean black and white models, but that is unconfirmed.”

This is significant, because it points to Apple reducing the iPhone 4′s memory down to 8GB, much like what they have done in the past with legacy model iPhones, in a bid to cut the price way down as well and offer prospective iPhone users a value-priced entry model. If Mark Gurman’s article is true, then we seem to be witnessing Apple falling in lock-step with  what they normally do when a new iPhone comes out.

That’s iPhone — singular.

While it would be possible that Apple might feature a mid-priced, mid-featured iPhone 4S with more memory than the 8GB iPhone 4, it would stand to reason that, if Apple wanted to offer an iPhone 4 at higher storage capacity — even after the iPhone 5 is released — they would simply continue to offer the iPhone 4 as is. But this pattern is more in keeping with the status quo, as it shows that Apple wants to put a wide gap between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 both in price and features so that there is no overlap. If the models are too close to one another, prospective users may be more apt to purchase a cheap iPhone 4 and pass over the iPhone 5.

It’s worth noting that 9to5Mac also dispels any idea that these new Apple SKUs are for the iPhone 5: “We don’t think Apple’s next-generation iPhone – coming next week — would be labeled as an N90A – as it includes major internal hardware upgrades that would typically constitute a new codename. Additionally, the iPhone codename of N94 has appeared in the iOS SDK on numerous occasions.”

To be sure, it is still possible that the iPhone 4S and 5 could be on tap for the October 4th announcement, and all we’re seeing here is the dumbed down iPhone 4. But given this move by Apple, it’s still hard (for me, at least) to imagine Apple having three iPhone models at the same time, as it would seem to potentially cause product confusion.

By Michael Nace



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