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iPhone 5C aims to replace iPhone 5, not iPhone 4S -- analyst

The device will actually be a midrange product, and not one that will compete in the lower end of the space.

Apple's iPhone 4S isn't going anywhere anytime soon, according to one analyst.
Apple's iPhone 4S isn't going anywhere anytime soon, according to one analyst.
Josh Miller/CNET

Apple's iPhone 5C might not be a "low end" product after all.

If the long-rumored device launches later this year, as expected, the iPhone 5C will actually be considered a midrange product and replace the iPhone 5, KGI Securities analyst and longtime Apple follower Ming-Chi Kuo wrote to investors on Monday, according to AppleInsider, which obtained a copy of the report. The iPhone 4S, which many believed would be killed off by the iPhone 5C, will live on, Kuo claims.

Apple's iPhone 5C has been rumored to be in the works for months. The device was initially believed to be a low-end product that would compete with cheaper handsets. The handset is expected to ship with a 4-inch display and come with a plastic casing in several different colors.

If Kuo is correct, however, the plan wouldn't address one issue that would have been solved by replacing the iPhone 4S: Apple's need to build and provide legacy connectors. The iPhone 4S works with the old 30-pin connector. If the iPhone 5C were to replace the iPhone 4S, Apple would finally be able to ditch the 30-pin option and bring its Lightning port to all of its current smartphones.

Kuo, who has been one of the more reliable Apple handicappers in the past, isn't convinced by that line of thinking. He believes that Apple sees more upside in delivering the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 4S alongside each other.

So, how will all of those products fare? According to AppleInsider, Kuo said in his note that he expects Apple to ship 8.4 million iPhone 5C units this fiscal quarter. However, Kuo said that some issues with building the iPhone 5S will mean that handset will be limited to 5.2 million unit shipments.

Looking ahead, Kuo argues that the iPhone 5S will eventually outsell the iPhone 5C, adding that Apple could ship as many as 28 million iPhone 5S units during the last quarter of the year.

Apple, of course, hasn't confirmed anything Kuo has said, and likely won't until next month. The company is expected to hold a special event unveiling its new iPhone line on September 10.