This popular Apple Inc. product may be discontinued in 2018

In the fall of 2014, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduced not just one but two large-screen smartphones -- the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While Apple's iPhone 5s, which launched in the fall of 2013, had a modest 4-inch display, the iPhone 6 sported a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 6 Plus came with a jumbo 5.5-inch display.

These phones sold incredibly well, helping to propel Apple's iPhone unit shipments and revenue to record levels. 

Since then, Apple has introduced newer versions of these phones in the form of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus, and, just recently, the 8 and 8 Plus.

The iPhone 7 Plus proved a success in the market thanks to a shift in customer preferences toward larger-screen devices, as well as the inclusion of a dual-lens camera system that was excluded from the standard iPhone 7.

During Apple's most recent earnings call , CEO Tim Cook commented on the sales velocity of the iPhone 8 Plus, which went on sale back in September, saying that it had "gotten off to the fastest start of any Plus model."

"That, for us, was a bit of a surprise," Cook added.

So it may be surprising when I predict that the iPhone 8 Plus will be discontinued when Apple introduces its new iPhones in 2018.

Here's why I think that could happen.

RELATED: iPhones are expensive, check out 8 apartments that are actually cheaper than the iPhone 7:

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8 Apartments That Cost Less Than An iPhone 7
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8 Apartments That Cost Less Than An iPhone 7

1. Florida lakeside luxury

From $585/month, Sailwinds

Often, a studio feels like a sacrifice. That’s not the case at Sailwinds in Winter Haven, FL. The studio apartments have a savvy, space-conscious design and premium materials like plank flooring. Plus, if you’re looking to get the most out of your rental budget, the community offers two-bedroom apartments for less than an iPhone 7 too: $730/month! Whichever unit you choose, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the serenity that comes with being nestled next to picturesque Lake Deer.

Photo credit: Trulia.com 

2. Clever redesign in downtown Sioux Falls

From $593/month, YMCA Apartments

Enjoy a hip, refurbished apartment within walking distance to everything in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, without breaking your budget. Located in the old YMCA building, the newly renovated apartments have a classic design, with some industrial-chic touches (like exposed air-conditioning ducts) that give plenty of character. Plus, unlike typical affordable apartment communities, this one has a few special extras, like a fitness center, clubhouse, and pool.

Photo credit: Trulia.com 

3. Active amenities in Houston

From $595/month, Westchase Creek Apartments

If you’re the type who’s always up for a good time, this amenity-filled community in Houston, TX, is for you. The 24-hour HarborFit fitness center lets you squeeze in workouts that fit your schedule, the swimming pool and sun deck were designed for relaxation, the bark park lets your pooch get to know the neighbors, and the business center sets a heavenly scene for work-from-home days with its free Wi-Fi and coffee bar. When you finally retire to your apartment, you’ll enjoy a spacious layout and chic modern design — perfect for relaxing after an action-packed day.

4. Cozy (and quiet) in Chattanooga

From $619/month, The Grove at Hickory Valley

The biggest luxury of all has to be peace and quiet. The Grove at Hickory Valley in Chattanooga, TN, was designed just for that, with a concrete structure and noise-reducing walls and floors. But don’t mistake “concrete” for “industrial” style. The all-new interiors are warm and cozy, with dark cabinets and countertops, hardwood-style floors, and on-trend hardware. Since neighbors will be seen and not heard, socializing at the community center and gym will be a joy.

5. Surrounded by nature in North Carolina

From $639/month, Carolina Woods Apartments

Nature lovers will adore this place, which is located on a wooded ridge in the historic Bethabara Park area. But just because the setting is serenely rustic doesn’t mean you’re far off the beaten path. Since the community is located between I-40 and Winston-Salem, NC, you’re only a short drive to Wake Forest University and other major employers. In the summer, walk the mature, landscaped grounds and nearby park, and when the weather turns cool, head to the newly renovated fitness center for a high-intensity workout. Or just sit back and enjoy the views from your apartment.

6. Vegas views

$760/month, Avion at Sunrise Mountain

Here’s proof that you can live in a bustling city and still save on rent. These apartments are located in northeast Las Vegas, NV, which means you get to enjoy spectacular views of both downtown and the always-fabulous Las Vegas Strip. The biggest draw, however, is the community amenities: sparkling pools and heavenly outdoor spa tubs, a 24-hour-access fitness center, a billiards room, a community library, a business center, and a tot lot for little ones. Basically, it’s the closest thing to living in one of the great Vegas resorts.

7. Southern comforts

From $763/month, The Links at Georgetown

From the looks of this stately community, you’d expect a seriously high price tag. We also wouldn’t blame you if you thought the same thing after seeing the pet-friendly units, which have private entries, garages, ceramic tile foyers, electronic alarm systems, fireplaces, renovated gourmet kitchens, and stylish details like brushed-nickel finishes. Oh, yes, and the high-end gym and deluxe outdoor dining area. But the down-to-earth monthly rent makes it possible to enjoy these features, along with all the fun of nearby historic downtown Savannah, GA, without breaking your budget.

8. Fabulously Fresno

$845/month, Renaissance

You usually have to go far from campus to find an affordable apartment that isn’t geared to students (read: tiny), but Renaissance gives you surprisingly spacious digs close to Fresno State University’s campus in Fresno, CA. You’ll find roomy 700-square-foot one-bedroom apartments at this price, which also include a private balcony or patio, custom carpet and window coverings, generous closet space, and an upgraded kitchen with gas range. Even if your student days are behind you, you’ll love the convenient location near Highway 41 and all the major shopping centers.

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Make way for the 6.1-inch iPhone

Next year, Apple is set to launch an iPhone with a 6.1-inch liquid crystal display, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The device is expected to have minimal bezels, just as today's iPhone X does, and is also expected to feature Apple's 3D sensing TrueDepth camera to allow for features such as Face ID and Animoji.

This device is expected to serve as a lower-cost alternative to next year's iPhone X series of smartphones, which should use higher-end organic light-emitting diode displays and, according to Kuo, better design and technology specifications.

Kuo also expects such a device to start at between $649 and $749.

Let's suppose Apple introduces such a device at $699, or the midpoint of Kuo's expectations. Where would that leave this year's iPhone 8 Plus, which currently starts at $799?

Apple typically discounts prior-generation iPhones by about $100 when a new generation rolls out, so Apple could wind up selling the baseline iPhone 8 Plus and the baseline 6.1-inch LCD iPhone for roughly the same price.

If those two devices come in at the same price, then I think consumers will overwhelmingly choose the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, because it'll have a larger display, a more advanced front-facing camera system, and at least some internal upgrades, all in a more compact form factor.

The only advantage the iPhone 8 Plus would have in this case is a sharper display, but I think most customers would trade display sharpness for better cameras, form factors, and screen real estate.

So the iPhone 8 Plus will become redundant once the new 6.1-inch LCD iPhone launches next year.

The iPhone 8 could remain

Although I expect the iPhone 8 Plus to be discontinued, the iPhone 8 could remain. The device currently starts at $699, so after the customary $100 discount, it'd start at $599 -- solidly below where the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone would start.

I don't think an iPhone 8 at $599 would be particularly popular if Apple offers the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone at $699, since $100 extra would buy the consumer a substantially better device. But for customers unwilling or unable to stretch their budgets to accommodate the starting price of the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, a cost-reduced iPhone 8 could still be a reasonable choice.

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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