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iPhone sales in China drop in May

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Pedestrians walk past signage for an Apple Inc. store at the Shanghai International Center (IFC) shopping mall in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

iPhone sales in China fell in May, showing signs of weakening after Apple saw an initial rebound when the country re-opened as the coronavirus outbreak eased.

But other areas of the business grew, including spending on the company’s App Store, which could point to some resilience for the U.S. technology giant in one of its biggest markets.

Data collated from third-party sources by CNBC pointed to a mixed picture for Apple’s China performance in May.

Apple sold 3.6 million iPhones in China in May, down from 3.9 million in April, according to Shanghai-based CINNO Research. That’s a 7.7% fall versus April, but higher than the 3.05 million iPhone sold in May 2019.

It contrasts with the 160% month-on-month rise in April, where Apple benefited from pent-up demand in China and saw a rebound as the country reopened its economy following a shutdown for several weeks earlier this year.

Sales for the iPhone in China dropped a staggering 60% year-on-year in February this year. Apple was forced to close stores for a number of weeks as authorities sought to stem the spread of Covid-19. By mid-March, all the stores in China had reopened.

Meanwhile, so-called sell-in shipments of iPhones totaled just over 2 million in May, according to preliminary estimates by another research firm, IDC. That’s around a 25% fall month-on-month, Will Wong, research manager at IDC, told CNBC.

Sell-in refers to the number of iPhones Apple sold to its retail partners in China and can be used as a gauge for future demand.

Apple declined to comment on these figures.

Overall smartphone shipments in China fell nearly 20% month-on-month in May, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a Chinese state-backed think tank.

Apple released the second generation iPhone SE in mid-April which went on sale in China later that month. It’s the cheapest of the iPhone line and helped boost shipments in April as Apple got the device into the hands of retailers. But the company hasn’t released a new device in May, which could partly explain the drop in shipments. But Wong warns it could also be a sign of weak demand.

“The main reason (for the drop) is because of the low consumer sentiment because of job concerns, because of the economic slowdown, that has lowered consumer sentiment,” Wong told CNBC.

He did note, however, that Apple was expanding its retailer network into smaller tier Chinese cities, despite the macro-economic headwinds.

Signs of resilience

On Alibaba-owned shopping site Tmall, revenue from Apple products totaled $136.9 million in May, according to WPIC, an e-commerce tech and marketing firm that helps foreign brands sell in China. That’s a 7.2% month-on-month rise.

Of course, Tmall is just one channel that Apple sells its products through. Others include Alibaba rival JD.com, as well as Apple’s own stores and bricks-and-mortar retailers.

But Apple is benefiting from signs of life in online retail sales in China.

“Apple’s growth in 2020 is staggering considering that these numbers include COVID-19 time,” CEO of WPIC, Jacob Cooke, told CNBC. “Ultimately, it’s clear that Apple is a resilient company, and we’re keeping an eye on them to continue to grow over the back half of 2020.”

Meanwhile, consumer spending on Apple’s App Store in China totaled $1.71 billion in May, up around 11% from the $1.53 billion recorded in April, according to data from Sensor Tower.

That money may not directly go to Apple’s topline, but it shows an increasing number of users continue to spend money via Apple’s platform.

The App store is a key revenue driver for Apple’s increasingly important services business, which raked in over $46 billion in sales in the last fiscal year.

5G boost?

Part of the fall in shipments and sales for iPhones in China could have been due to consumers holding out for a 5G device. Apple is slated to release one this year, though some analysts are concerned there could be a delay.

Since China began rolling out its 5G networks last year, the popularity of devices able to connect to that generation of mobile infrastructure has been growing. In fact, 46.3% of total mobile phone shipments in China in May were 5G devices, according to CAICT.

Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a recent note that he estimates around 350 million of Apple’s 950 million iPhones in use worldwide are ready for an upgrade to the new iPhone, adding the U.S. technology giant could see a “5G super cycle.”

IDC’s Wong, however, suggests a potentially high price for Apple’s 5G iPhone could hold back its success.

“Some consumers might be waiting for 5G iPhones but two potential restraints could be pricing and another is lack of use cases,” Wong told CNBC.

Source: – CNBC

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Teardown reveals major iPhone 12 design changes to include 5G – AppleInsider

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The customary teardown of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reveals changes Apple has made to the design of the models to accommodate 5G support, as well as how strikingly similar the two models are internally.

Apple’s latest iPhone models started to arrive with consumers on Friday, so it wasn’t long after release that the first teardown videos of the devices started to surface. In the first fully-detailed disassembly of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, iFixit indicates there’s some changes in the design over the iPhone 11 generation, in order to add 5G functionality.

The initial stage of gaining access in the teardown hasn’t changed much for 2020, with the use of Pentalobe screwdrivers, suction cups, picks, and heat used to lever open the display. Rather than opening on the left-hand edge, a routine that has been in play since the iPhone 7, the iPhone 12 opens from the right-hand edge.

An initial glance at the insides of both non-Pro and Pro models simultaneously has no indications one is better than the other, until the removal of the camera shield. It seems that the two were constructed so alike that Apple uses a plastic spacer in the iPhone 12 where the third camera and LiDAR sensor would be located in the iPhone 12 Pro.

The iPhone 12 and Pro cameras, as well as a camera spacer [via iFixit]

Another change for 2020 is the flipping of positions for the SIM tray, logic board, and battery, which is thought to be due to the larger logic board housing Qualcomm’s 5G chips. The logic board includes the Apple A14 Bionic SoC layered with Micron memory, Samsung flash storage, Qualcomm’s 5G and LTE transceiver, Qualcomm’s 5G modem, Apple’s U1 chip and power management controller, and an Avago power amplifier and integrated duplexer.

To make 5G work properly, the smartphones were found to have mmWave antenna modules embedded in the side of the frame and on the back of the logic board.

For other components, it was found that Apple had changed how the speakers were held in place, with it using Phillips screws and bright orange rubber gaskets instead of adhesive, which may aid repairs. The MagSafe charging arrays use 18 magnets to align the coils in place with the charger, with the polarity of the magnets thought to “expand the effective placement of the phone” while still maintaining proper alignment.

A side-by-side component view of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro [via iFixit]

A side-by-side component view of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro [via iFixit]

In summing up the new models, iFixit suggests Apple has made “some serious design compromises” to add 5G components, with the loss of elements like the L-shaped battery and the smaller logic board. Though not “death by a thousand cuts,” the concessions made by Apple makes the iPhones feel “the least inventive.”

iFixit gave the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 a “Repairability Score” of 6 out of 10. While display and battery replacements stay as a priority along with modular components inside and the use of screws, the continued use of glue and the increased waterproofing measures “complicate some repairs,” while a broken glass back replacement will requiring the removal of every component from the device.

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Forget iPhone 12: iPhone 13 leak reveals a game changing upgrade – Tom's Guide

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The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are both a big step forward from the iPhone 11 series, but they’re not without their faults. The biggest issue is shorter battery life over 5G, which probably led to Apple’s decision not to adopt 120Hz screens this time around.

There are two likely culprits here. The first is pretty obvious: the iPhone 12 family has lower-capacity batteries than the iPhone 11 lineup. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pack a 2,815 mAh battery, compared to 3,110 mAh for the iPhone 11 and 3,046 mAh for the iPhone 11 Pro. 

The second cause is slightly trickier: the introduction of 5G is clearly a battery drain as our iPhone 12 battery tests show. But there’s still something Apple can do about this, and the good news is it has already committed to taking that step in the upcoming iPhone 13.

A recent teardown video on Chinese social networking site Weibo proved what many feared: the iPhone 12 uses Qualcomm’s 7-nanometer X55 5G modem, which isn’t known for its power efficiency. 

But Apple has already confirmed that this will change in the iPhone 13, and not via the usual insider leaks. Instead, the company revealed its plans on page 71 of its settlement with Qualcomm

“Apple intends to commercially launch… New Models of Apple Products during the time period between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022 (the ‘2021 Lanch’), some of which use the SDX60 Qualcomm Chipset,” the document explains. 

That’s a big deal. The 5-nanometer X60 chipset can integrate directly into a phone’s chipset, meaning a smaller footprint and lower battery drain. Not only that, but 5G performance should be better too, as it can combine mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G networks simultaneously.

Ahead of the iPhone 12’s release, some rumors suggested that the handset would get this game changing upgrade early, but sadly that didn’t come to pass. This was not surprising, though, given Qualcomm itself said that phones with the chip would first emerge next year.  

Even without this 5G modem, though, the iPhone 12 family is a big upgrade over its predecessor. Not only is it 50% faster in performance, but 5G connectivity across the board means faster browsing and downloads. There’s also the introduction of MagSafe wireless charging and Ceramic Shield, which Apple says provides up to four times the level of protection from drops. 

It all adds up to a compelling package and, as we said in our four-star iPhone 12 review, “a serious step forward for the most popular iPhone.” Our 4.5-star iPhone Pro review was even more glowing, stating that it “beats every Android phone in its class in terms of performance and camera quality, even if it’s a step behind in battery life.” 

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PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger – MacRumors

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Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that’s meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W.


The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it’s not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow.

We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the battery down to 1 percent, putting it in Airplane Mode, and then charging for a half an hour.

In the first test, the MagSafe charger charged the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max to 13 percent in 30 minutes, and in the second test, it charged the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max to 14 percent in 30 minutes.

We’ve tested a lot of Qi-based wireless chargers and have never seen 7.5W Qi charging speeds that slow. For reference, a 7.5W charger is able to charge an iPhone to about 25 percent in a half hour.


We specifically tested the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max in the exact same conditions as the MagSafe charger with a standard 7.5W Belkin charger and it charged to 26 percent in the 30 minute window.

For those who don’t have an ‌iPhone 12‌ and were considering getting a MagSafe charger to use with an older ‌iPhone‌, don’t. It’s not worth it for the slow charging speeds and you’re better off with a standard Qi charger.

The MagSafe charger will work fine with the ‌iPhone 12‌ and should charge faster than Qi, but it’s not as fast as charging with the Lightning to USB-C cable and a 20W power adapter, as Joanna Stern found out in a charging speed test. That’s not too surprising because a Lightning to USB-C charger paired with a 20W+ power adapter enables fast charging, where the ‌iPhone 12‌ models can charge to 50 percent in one half hour.

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