Apple is gearing up to start iPhone 5S production later this month as part of a plan to make 15 million of the devices, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note Monday morning.
The latest speculation about the iPhone 5S -- which remains the fodder of rumor and expectation, as Apple has kept mum on such a product thus far -- draws from Misek's conclusions from inventory channel checks.
Based on the checks, he said he believes small-batch production of a low-cost iPhone began last month, and manufacture of the iPhone 5S will begin later in July. He estimated availability would be in late September or early October, based on the lead time he thinks the device requires.
He estimates the mix is 15 million each of the low-cost iPhone and iPhone 5S, with the iPhone 4S being retired.
The iPhone 5S has a history at the rumor mill. Pictures in December showed an exterior identical to the iPhone 5, just a couple of months off the launch of the iPhone 5. Other pictures surfaced last month. More recently, a Korean news outlet expected a version of the iPhone 5S with LTE-Advanced technology.
Misek has a track record of some misses, too, including about imminent launches of an Apple TV set last year, which did not pan out.