APPLE SUPPLIER TSMC has reportedly started production on the processors set to debut inside this year’s lineup of new iPhones.
So says Bloomberg, which reports that the processor – likely to be called the A12 chip – will use a 7-nanometer (7nm) design that will enable smaller, faster and more efficient processors than the 10nm chips found in current iDevices.
And while specifics details have yet to emerge, TSMC claims on its website that its 7nm processor allows for a 20 per cent improvement in performance and around 40 per cent power reduction.
The Taiwanese chipmaker confirmed to Bloomberg that production had begun, but declined to disclose Apple as its customer.
The report arrives just hours after Samsung announced today that it’ll start producing 7nm chips at scale next year. The company has manufactured iPhone chips in the past and shared production with TSMC on the A9 chip in the iPhone 6S, but TSMC has been Apple’s exclusive SoC partner ever since.
10/5/18: iPhone X Plus will feature the same footprint as the iPhone 8 despite packing a larger 6.5in display, according to Macotakara.
The website, citing a “reliable supplier source,”, claims that Apple’s supersized iPhone X Plus will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus – which packs a much smaller 5.5in display – thanks to its dramatically smaller bezels.
However, Macorakara claims that the handset will be slightly thicker (0.2mm) than the iPhone 8 Plus due to a “different implementation” of the rear-facing camera, which means it likely will measure in around the 7.7mm mark.
Seperately, the report claims that Apple’s second-gen 5.8in iPhone X will feature a larger camera sensor than the original model, although specifics were not mentioned.
It also notes that the next version of Apple’s mobile OS, iOS 12, will bring support for horizontal Face ID unlocking. Currently, Face ID can only recognize you while you hold the phone vertically, but horizontal unlock makes sense for the near tablet-sized iPhone X Plus.
1/5/18: Apple reportedly won’t bundle a Lighting to 3.5mm dongle with its 2018 iPhones as the firm looks to eliminate the headphone jack completely.
Ever since Apple decided to drop the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the company has included a Lighting to 3.5mm adaptor in the box.
However, a research note from Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis, seen by AppleInsider, claims that this will stop this year, with the analyst noting “we currently model no dongle this year”.
Curtis didn’t provide any evidence, but his claims are backed up by earlier reports that Apple wants to lower the cost of its upcoming iPhones, and getting rid of the adaptor would push down the company’s expenses.
Such a move, while frustrating, wouldn’t be the end of the world, as Apple the adaptor as a standalone accessory for £9, which is cheap by the company’s standards.
27/4/18: Apple’s upcoming 6.1in might scrap 3D Touch due to ‘cost constraints’, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
According to Kuo, the entry-level 6.1in iPhone will use a new technology called ‘Cover Glass Sensor’ (CGS) that will see the handset’s touch control module relocated from the display panel to the actual glass. This CGS glass will reportedly make for a lighter and more shock resistant display, according to the note seen by Chinese site Feng
In addition to the in-glass sensor, Apple will also equip the glass with a ‘touch film sensor’. While the purpose of this remains unclear, Kuo notes that it will make the cost of the touch panel 15 per cent more expensive – with Apple set to pay $26 per touch panel, compared to $23 currently.
In order to offset the cost of the new display tech, Kuo claims that Apple will get rid of the 3D Touch functionality on the 6.1in iPhone. However, it’ll remain intact on Apple’s 5.8in and 6.5in OLED iPhones, Kuo notes.
These might be the last two iPhones to offer the functionality, though, as the research note claims that Apple plans to incorporate the CGS tech into future iPhones, including OLED models starting in 2019, 3D Touch could potentially be removed from all future iPhones.
26/5/18: Intel will supply 70 per cent of LTE chips for Apple’s upcoming 2018 iPhones and could soon become the firm’s sole supplier, Fast Company reports.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously hinted that Intel might become Apple’s sole supplier of LTE modems this year, as tensions between the iPhone maker and Qualcomm escalate.
However, a source with knowledge of Apple’s plans told Fast Company that Intel will supply the majority of the firm’s modem chips in 2018, noting that this is the first year that the chipmaker is fabricating its own chips using the 14nm process.
“There’s also a chance that if Intel can produce enough chips on time and on budget it could get more than the planned 70 per cent,” the report notes.
Despite the friction between the two firms, Qualcomm will reportedly provide the remainder of the chips.
However, the firm could soon be kicked to the curb, as Fortune notes that Apple will transition solely to Intel for its 2019 iPhone lineup if all goes to plan this year.
25/4/18: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly started production of the A12 processor that will debut inside Apple’s next-generation iPhones.
The chip is being produced using TSMC’s 7-nanometer (nm) production process, according to Digitimes, making it the first A-series chip to use this process. The A11 Bionic chip used inside the iPhone X and iPhone X was suit on the 10nm process.
The A12 chip – which will reportedly be the first processor based on the 7nm processor, likely followed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 – looks set to equip Apple’s iPhone X2 with a boost in both speed and a better battery life. TSMC claims on its website that its 7nm processor allows for a 20 per cent improvement in performance and around 40 per cent power reduction.
Separately, Digitimes notes that TSMC will be the sole producer of A12 chips, despite rumours that Samsung was competing with the firm for A12 production.
19/4/18: Apple’s rumoured 6.1in LCD iPhone, set to arrive later this year, could cost as little as $550, almost half the price of the current iPhone X.
So says respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, which claims that the incoming model could sell for between $550 and $650, while a dual-SIM model will be available for between $650 and $750.
Kuo claims the upcoming 6.5in OLED iPhone will also feature a dual-SIM variant, but hasn’t coughed on how much this model is likely to cost. The 5.8in OLED iPhone will reportedly be available in a single-SIM version only.
22/3/18: Apple plans to start a trial production run of its 2018 iPhone lineup in the second quarter, Digitimes reports.
The move comes as Apple looks to avoid the manufacturing delays that plagued the original iPhone X, which were said to have been caused by low yield rates on the production of its 3D sensor modules.
Digitimes’ source claims that “the trial production will help push ahead the delivery schedules for 2018 iPhone devices so that they will rekindle its smartphone momentum”, noting that sales of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X have all been “lower than expected.”
21/3/18: The next-generation iPhone X will cost “much less” than Apple’s current £1,000 flagship, according to reports.
Apple is expected to launch three iPhone variants this year – a 6.5in OLED model, a 6.1in LCD model, and a 5.8in OLED model.
According to a new report from Digitimes Research senior analyst Luke Lin, the 5.8in variant of the second-gen iPhone X will be much cheaper to manufacture than the current model, despite its expensive OLED display.
Lin, citing information from Apple’s upstream supply chain, claims the new device’s manufacturing bill of materials (MBOM) will be more than 10 per cent lower than that for the original iPhone X, which reportedly costs Apple $400 to build.
This cost-saving will be passed along to the customer, claims Lin, who says the 5.85in iPhone X will be the cheapest of Apple’s 2018 iPhones.
Interestingly, Lin adds that Apple had previously planned to bring an LCD version of the 5.85in iPhone to market this year, but scrapped the project in mid-February.
27/2/18: Just a day after the first images of alleged iPhone X Plus parts surfaced online, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple’s “biggest smartphone yet” will make its debut this year.
Mark Gurman, notorious for legitimate Apple leaks, reports that the iPhone X Plus will see an official launch later this year and will be just one of three new iPhones in 2018.
According to Gurman, the so-called iPhone X Plus will arrive alongside “an upgraded handset the same size as the current iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the flagship phone’s key features.”
The iPhone X Plus, codenamed ‘D33’, sounds like it will be the most interesting of the three, with its 6.5in OLED display set to fit into a device with the same physical footprint as the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to its lack of physical home button and edge-to-edge display.
It’s OLED display will pack a 1242×2688 display, according to the report, making it “about as sharp” as the 5.8in screen on the original iPhone X.
The iPhone X Plus, along with the 5.8in iPhone X successor – codenamed ‘D22’ – could be made available in a gold colour option for the first time, the report claims. Bloomberg notes that Apple tried to develop a gold version of the current iPhone X handset, but abandoned it because of “production problems”.
All three incoming models, including the more-affordable LCD-equipped model, will pack Apple’s next-generation A12 processor, the report adds, alongside iOS 12 and a built-in Face ID sensor.
There’s no word as to when the smartphones will be making their debut, but it’s likely Apple will hold its launch event in September.
26/2/18: A leak alleged to have come from an LG display production facility in Vietnam has given us our first glimpse of Apple’s iPhone X Plus.
A pair of images posted on MacX forums show what appears to be an iPhone X-shaped pane of glass. It’s clearly bigger than the panel found on the current-gen iPhone X, and looks like it could have a smaller notch too – matching up with earlier rumours that claimed that Apple will downsize the notch on future iPhone X models.
Although unclear whether the leak is legit, MacRumours notes that the flex cable looks authentic, as does the part number printed on it.
Also adding weight to the leak is the fact that earlier rumours also claimed that, while Samsung currently uses Samsung as its supplier for OLED displays, it’s planning to use LG’s OLED facility for its 2018 iPhone models.
16/2/18: Apple will release a 6.1in iPhone this year that will resemble the iPhone X and cost just $699 (around £500) according to KGI.
In a note seen by 9to5Mac, KGI is predicting that Apple’s mooted 6.1in iPhone will “use slightly less premium components” than the iPhone X, such as an aluminium frame instead of stainless steel. Despite this, it will reportedly look nearly identical to Apple’s notch-equipped flagship.
This all sounds like a winning formula to KGI, which expects the 6.1in LCD-screened model to be Apple’s “most popular” 2018 device, and expects it to see total sales of around 100 million units.
In comparison, KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo expects the current iPhone X to ship a total of 62 million units in its lifetime.
Alongside the 6.1in iPhone, Apple is also expected to launch a new and improved iPhone X with souped-up internals and a larger iPhone X Plus with a 6.5in OLED display. While KGI expects the lesser-specced model to retail for $699, pricing for the other two models is not yet known.
5/2/18: Apple will reportedly make Intel its sole supplier of cellular modems for its 2018 iPhones, eliminating its reliance on Qualcomm.
So says KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, naturally, who reports via 9to5Mac that: “Intel will be the exclusive supplier of baseband chip for 2H18 new iPhone models, while Qualcomm may not have a share of the orders at all.”
According to Kuo, Intel can meet Apple’s technical requirements and offers more competitive prices. The modem which Apple may be using is Intel’s XMM 7560 modem which supports 4×4 MIMO technology.
This move comes amid escalating tensions between Apple and Qualcomm. One of the firms’ most recent legal squabbles saw the chipmaker accuse Apple of sharing proprietary code with Intel, including confidential information about its chips.
Despite this ongoing hostility between the two firms, Kuo doesn’t rule out Qualcomm returning to the supply chain, perhaps as concessions in the patent lawsuit settlement.
He adds that there’s also a risk that Intel may not be ready for 5G as quickly as Qualcomm, which may also force Apple’s hand.
26/1/18: Apple will launch a single OLED iPhone this year with a 6.5in screen, according to Digitimes, despite earlier speculation that it was also planning a 5.8in successor to the iPhone X.
Digitimes‘ report, which we’d advise to take with a pinch of salt, claims that Apple plans to abandon the 5.8in OLED iPhone form factor after just one generation, and plans instead to launch just the 6.5in iPhone X Plus later this year.
It notes, however, that Apple has “not yet made the final decision” and notes that the firm has been testing four different iPhone designs for 2018.
Still, it seems pretty confident that Apple” 2018 lineup will comprise of 5.8in LCD, a 6.1in LCD and the 6.5in OLED phone iPhone models.
Elsewhere in its report, Digitimes also claims that an iPhone SE successor with wireless charging, and no 3D Touch, will make its debut later this year.
19/1/18: A new report from KGI, via 9to5Mac, reaffirms previous speculation that Apple will launch a three-tier iPhone lineup this year, including a 6.1in LCD model with a “similar design to the iPhone X”, a sequel to last year’s iPhone X and the 6.5in iPhone X Plus.
This comes despite KGI’s claims that the iPhone X hasn’t sold as well as first thought. The analyst outfit expects Apple to ship 18 million iPhone X units in the current quarter, significantly below other estimates in the 20-30 million range.
With these lacklustre figures in mind, KGI expects the iPhone X to hit end of life status around mid-2018 with sales of 62 million units in total, lower than its previous forecast of 80 million.
30/11/17: Apple is reportedly developing in-house power management chips that could debut in next year’s iPhones, according to a report at Nikkei.
The report claims that the chip “would be the most advanced in the industry” and could dramatically extend the battery life of iPhones. Nikkei says that while a timeframe is not yet locked down, Apple is hoping to debut the chips in its 2018 iPhones.
This could be bad news for UK outfit Dialog, which currently designs the power management chips for iPhones. If Apple – which last year accounted for 74 per cent of Dialog’s revenue – was to switch to in-house circuitry, it would no longer be required to hand over royalty payments.
The company’s stock has already fallen by 15 per cent following Nikkei’s report, although neither Apple nor Dialog have commented on the rumours.
Earlier this year, Apple told UK-based Imagination Technologies that it would stop licensing its GPU designs. This news saw the company’s stock tumble more than 70 per cent in a single day, and the two firms are now embroiled in a legal battle.
20/11/17: KGI Securities is predicting that Apple’s 2018 iPhone line-up will include ‘significantly faster’ baseband chips, with Intel set to be the main supplier.
KGI says that Intel will provide 70 to 80 per cent of the improved chips, which will pack 4×4 MIMO technology compared to the current 2×2 MIMO chips currently used in Apple smartphones.
The remaining chips are set to come from Qualcomm, according to the research note, despite previous speculation that Apple was set to cut ties with the American chipmaker due to escalating legal tensions between the two firms.
While Qualcomm will still have a hand in next year’s iPhones, KGI notes that Apple is working on building its own baseband chips, in a bid to help it reduce costs in the future.
14/11/17: Apple will reportedly release three new iPhones next year and all of them will come with a notched display, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Kuo expects Apple to release three iPhones in 2018, including 5.8in and 6.5in models with OLED displays and a cheaper 6.1in handset with an LCD display, according to a research note seen by MacRumours.
“Two new OLED models target high-end market; new TFT-LCD model aims at low-end & midrange markets,” Kuo said.
“The new TFT-LCD model will differ significantly from the OLED models in hardware and design specs (for instance, the PPI will be lower). The primary selling points of the TFT-LCD model may be the innovative user experience of an integrated full-screen design and 3D sensing with a lower price tag (we expect it will likely be US$649-749).”
Kuo goes on to say that all three models will likely come equipped with a full-screen notched design and TrueDepth camera system like that seen on the iPhone X, with all three handsets tipped to dump Touch ID in favour of Apple’s new, crackable Face ID system.
Earlier rumours also claimed that next year’s iPhone(s) could ship without modem chips from Qualcomm, with Apple said to be testing modem chips from Intel and MediaTek to potentially include in its 2018 hardware line-up. There’s also talk of the so-called iPhone 11 packing a Samsung-built A12 chip.
Kuo also suggested that Apple will have a lot more of the ‘new’ iPhones available at launch when compared to the 80 million iPhone units shipped in the second half of this year.
While Kuo predicts the cheaper LCD model to fetch around $700, there’s no word yet as to how much Apple’s next-gen OLED models are likely to cost.
We’re going to go out on a whim and predict that the new iPhones will probably be announced in September next year. µ