Apple to launch new iPhone

Apple is kicking off a busy week: it will host reporters and analysts at its Silicon Valley headquarters for a product launch event.

The next day, its lawyers will square off with authorities in federal court over the FBI's demand for help unlocking a San Bernardino killer's encrypted iPhone.

The tech giant's dispute with the government has commanded headlines for weeks, but it may get scant mention at the company's product event.

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Instead, chief executive Tim Cook is expected to show off some new additions to the current family of iPhone and iPad devices at Monday's gathering.

Apple could use a lift. IPhone sales are levelling off, after surging last year to record levels that made Apple the world's biggest company, by stock market value. And many are wondering if Cook can come up with another big hit.

So far, however, there have been no hints of any dramatic announcements.

And even though Cook has been outspoken about his opposition to a judge's order compelling Apple to write software that overrides iPhone security features, tech analysts say he probably won't risk overshadowing the company's products by discussing the case at Monday's event.

Several analysts expect the company will introduce an upgrade to its older, four-inch iPhone 5S - aimed at consumers who haven't sprung for the bigger-screen iPhone 6 models that Apple introduced over the past two years.

The new phone may come with features like Apple Pay and the company's fastest processor, which have previously been offered only on versions of the iPhone 6.

Analysts and tech blogs say Apple also may unveil a new model of the iPad Pro, which the company introduced last year with several features - like a detachable keyboard and stylus - designed for business users.

A four-inch iPhone isn't likely to see the kind of blockbuster demand that Apple enjoyed with its large-screen iPhone 6 and 6S models, according to several financial analysts, but it could help Apple boost overall sales.

The smaller phone might also draw some additional users into the market for Apple's online services, including Apple Music, Apple Pay and the highly profitable mobile App Store.

Even with new features, analysts say the 4-inch iPhone should sell at a lower price than the larger models. That means it may appeal to some shoppers, especially in overseas markets, who want a premium phone at lower cost. It may also draw interest from owners of older iPhone 5 models who find the larger models unwieldy.

Many analysts expect Apple will release a more dramatically revamped new iPhone 7 in the (northern) autumn.

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