iPhone 5 sales could reach unprecedented 250M

China expected to be huge for the next iPhone according to analysts

Analysts make lofty predictions before the iPhone 5 is even announced

Analysts are going ga-ga for Apple's iPhone 5, predicting a tremendous sales boost of when the handset arrives this year.

Specifically, FBR Capital analyst Craig Berger has big ideas for the next iPhone, projecting sales of 250 million units over the course of its lifespan.

"We expect the iPhone 5 … has the potential to generate the most promising device upgrade cycle in Apple's history," Berger said.

"We estimate that Apple should sell 250 million iPhone 5 units at an average ASP of $575, generating nearly $144 billion in revenue, $77 billion in gross profit, and $47 billion in net income."

China is the key

To put 250 million iPhone 5 sales in perspective, as of March Apple said it sold 365 million iOS devices worldwide.

So how will iPhone 5 sales reach or eclipse previous iOS device sales combined?

The new iPhone is expected to be a significant upgrade over the current devices in a number of areas, including a larger 4-inch display and NFC support.

But the key to such strong iPhone sales rests overseas in China. China Mobile, the country's largest wireless carrier, is expected to start distributing the next iPhone some time in 2013.

With an audience of 683 million subscribers gaining access to the new iPhone, that 250 million figure starts to look a whole lot more reasonable.

Of course, Apple needs to actually announce the new iPhone first.

The announcement is rumored to take place during a special event in September, with the actual launch later that month.

Via AllThingsD