The media invitation included several differently colored bubbles behind an Apple logo and a single tagline, "This should brighten everyone's day." The event will take place at the company's Cupertino headquarters at 10 a.m.
Apple is expected to announce a lower-priced iPhone model at the event, rumored to be called the iPhone 5C, that will be housed in a plastic case that can be offered in a variety of colors. The production of such a device was confirmed by a human-rights group that secretly infiltrated a Chinese factory working on the assembly and reported on labor-rights violations in July.
Many analysts say Apple must offer a cheaper version of its iconic iPhone to stake out a position in the midrange of the smartphone market as sales of its higher-priced flagship model continue to slow and rivals introduce their own lower-priced gadgets. In the past, Apple has chased that value-seeking consumer by selling its older-model phones for $100 or $200 less than the latest and more expensive model, but it seems to be switching gears: Last week, the tech giant confirmed a new trade-in program that will allow users to surrender older models of the iPhone for discounts on newer models at the Cupertino company's retail stores.
Apple is also expected to introduce a new higher-end model, which many predict will be dubbed the iPhone 5S, similar to the iPhone 4S, which upgraded several components from its predecessor. The most intriguing rumor floating around that model is the possible inclusion of a fingerprint sensor: Apple purchased a company, AuthenTec, last year that specialized in fingerprint sensors, and multiple reports have pointed to the "Home" button on the iPhone 5S doubling as the biometric sensor. Multiple colors are also expected for the higher-end model, including a gold color aimed at the Chinese market.
Apple last introduced a new iPhone on Sept. 12, 2012, with CEO Tim Cook helping to launch the iPhone 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. When the new iPhone debuted in the United States and several other countries Sept. 21, Apple stock hit an all-time high of $705.07, but the company has experienced a long Wall Street fall since, dropping as low as $385.10. Apple's share price has rebounded to top $500 recently but closed Friday at $487.22 before rising about 1 percent in morning trading Tuesday following the long weekend. Analysts say the company needs to show a strong hand in its next hardware introduction.
"Investors, along with the rest of the world, are waiting with increasing impatience, for Apple to wow them once again," IDC analyst John Jackson recently told the Mercury News, later adding, "the next event will arguably be the biggest product launch in Apple's history because it will tell us about the future of the company as a true innovator."
Staff writer Patrick May contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.