For every new release of OS X operating system there is a flurry of analysis about how Apple is turning OS X into iOS. While Apple isn't going to make Macs into touch screen devices any time soon, the two OS's are getting some similar features and functions. They're becoming more related, kissing cousins instead of siblings. However, I do think that the way Apple markets the iPhone models will become similar to how they differentiate the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptop lines.
There is much speculation that Apple's next iPhone will be available in multiple screen sizes, probably 4.7" and 5.5". Some "analysis" (AKA pulled from their butt) seem to think there can be only one flagship model iPhone and that'll be 5.5" inch, priced $100 over the 4.7" model will retain the same price as the current iPhone 5s and be considered an "inferior" model, maybe even replace the current 5c while the 5s will disappear.
In Apple's laptop line models are not broken up by screen size or battery life. Rather it is body type, processor and memory that break up which line a laptop belongs to. Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines have a 13" model. In the Air line one model (11") has a 9 hour battery while the 13" has a 12 hour battery. The Pro line the 13" has a 9 hour battery while the 15" is at 8 hours.
Instead the Pro line can have more memory (both in drive space and system RAM). Processor speed is faster and the body builds are different. The Pro line is currently the only line with Retina displays, but the iPhones are already all retina so I don't think this matters.
So this year I think the numbers will be dropped from the mid-range (currently the 5c) and flagship lines (currently the 5s). I think the lines will be split into the flagship/mid-range based on processor, memory and body type.
- New processor A8. The new screens will need a better GPU than the A7 processor is my from the butt guess on what'll be new.
- More system RAM. 5s is currently at 1 GB. I suspect it will go to 2 GB.
- New body style. I think most of the body has leaked now from parts suppliers, but I don't look at those. Not much you can really do with a phone that is mostly screen and a couple of buttons. Change back material and some edge styling to make it feel better in hand. New colors? (I'm guessing no on colors.)
- 2 screen sizes: 4.7" and 5.5".
- There will be resolution differences between the two but Apple will just call them "retina" and leave the details in the tech specs.
- Different battery life between the two. It'll be mentioned but unless there is a significant bump in both models it'll be glossed over.
- The mid-range name won't be a number but will still only have one screen size.
- The model will be the iPhone 5s but with a plastic body similar to the 5c.
- The colors available will be different than the current 5c.
- Only available in 4" screen size.
"Low-end" (Free with contract)
- The 5c will become the "low-end" (free with contract)
- Drop number of colors available? Just black and white?
- Drop number of flash sizes available? Current 4s is only available in 8 GB.
What will the names be? I've no idea and don't want to speculate. Apple seems to like "Pro", "Mini", and "Air" currently. But their use is a bit inconsistant. the iPad Air is the larger screen size with top of the line processor, but the MacBook Air has the smaller screens and lower processors.
How likely to I consider all this? I suspect it'll happen either this year or next year with a high bet on this year. Forced to put a number on it I'd go with 75% chance it'll happen this year.