Data released last week by research firm IDC showed that Android had increased its share of global smartphone shipments to nearly 80% in the second quarter from the year-earlier period, while iOS’ share slipped to 13.2% from 16.6%. Samsung alone claimed 30.4% of the smartphone market in the quarter, but China-based rivals like Lenovo and ZTE are also making inroads by offering lower-cost devices.
Alongside its iPhone 5 update, Apple is rumored to be launching a budget version of its signature device to better compete in overseas markets. That effort, combined with its expansion into prepaid offerings, should help Apple accelerate growth in the coming quarters, according to IDC.
During Apple's second-quarter conference call last month, CEO Tim Cook noted that the lower-priced iPhone 4 has proven to be popular with first-time iPhone buyers. But he rejected the view that the higher end of the smartphone market had peaked.
While the upgraded iPhone is expected to look much like the current iPhone 5, released a year ago, tech blog BGR has reported that the biggest changes will be internal. They would include a faster processor, an improved camera, and even a fingerprint scanner that could potentially be used for things like authenticating purchases.
Any new handset, of course, will also run iOS 7, which Apple previewed at its developer conference in June. The operating system upgrade includes a major redesign of the iPhone's user interface, with a flatter graphic design, new icons and typography, and a translucent background. The iOS update will also be available for older iPhone models, as well as the iPad and iPod.
Apple did not respond to a media inquiry about the timing of an iPhone launch event.