A new iPhone (s AAPL) is expected to debut in the next six weeks or so. And Apple’s supply chain is kicking into high gear to churn out a glut of the shiny new smartphones in order to meet what is likely to be voracious demand. But even when the upgraded iPhone arrives, it appears Apple will continue to build the iPhone 4 in pretty large numbers, according to Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar.
Here’s what he says is in the works for Apple’s supply chain:
From a supply chain perspective, total iPhone volumes could be up high single digits sequentially to around 22 million units with the upgraded iPhone representing almost quarter of the volume. The “new” iPhone is expected to be a spec upgrade and not a complete redesign. It is likely that the existing iPhone 4 could be repositioned as a “lower” cost device and will continue to ship until the rollout of the completely redesigned iPhone sometime next year.
Apple has sold “last year’s” model at a discounted price previously — most recently with the iPhone 3GS after the iPhone 4 arrived — so that’s not necessarily new. But this report does jibe with several previous reports that say Apple is planning a “cheaper” iPhone 4, with just 8 GB of memory instead of the 16 and 32 GB versions that it’s been selling since June 2010.
It makes sense Apple would continue to sell as many iPhone 4s as it can. The company has racked up sales of the iPhone 4 pretty much unabated, selling 20.3 million devices in the most recent quarter, despite not having a new model iPhone in the summer. Almost fifteen months after the iPhone 4 arrived, Kumar notes, it is still the best-selling phone for AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s VZW).