Low OLED Panel Yield Could Cap ‘iPhone 8’ Availability at 4 Million Units in 2017

Shipments of Apple's upcoming "iPhone 8" could be delayed because of low yield rates at assembly plants and a limited supply of OLED display panels, according to a report published on Tuesday.

DigiTimes cited industry sources predicting that the shipments could end up behind schedule because of the issues, despite chipset suppliers delivering parts early and an increased recruitment drive by companies in the assembly line.

iPhone 8 render by @VenyaGeskin1
The latest speculation comes even though chipset suppliers have begun delivering related parts to the iPhone supply in the second quarter, and iPhone assemblers Foxconn Electronics, Pegatron and Wistron have been stepping up efforts to recruit more workers for their assembly lines in China, said the sources.
As covered previously on MacRumors, Samsung is the main supplier of display panels for Apple's 5.8-inch OLED iPhone, with Apple reportedly having ordered 70 million units from the company this year.

However, although Samsung Display has promised to fully support Apple with regards to the supply of OLED panels, DigiTimes' sources are now claiming only 3 to 4 million OLED-based iPhones will be ready for shipping before the new smartphones are unveiled at a product event slated for September.
Judging from the current supply of OLED panels, it will be difficult for Apple to ship up to 50-60 million OLED-based new iPhones in 2017, the sources indicated.
There have already been rumors suggesting the OLED iPhone will be in short supply when it launches, with the majority of the stock unavailable until later in the year, so today's report doesn't come out of the blue. However, the number of iPhones available at launch quoted by DigiTimes is the lowest we've seen so far.

Apple's so-called "iPhone 8" will be a radical redesign compared to previous handsets, with a glass body and edge-to-edge OLED display that includes an integrated Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a front-facing camera with 3D sensing capabilities, possibly for use with augmented reality software. The new iPhone is expected to be sold alongside upgraded (but standard) 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.

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Tag: digitimes.com

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Apple Said to Aim for Trial Production of Micro-LED Displays by End of 2017

A new report posted by Digitimes today has taken a look into the micro-LED ambitions of multiple companies, including the timeline by which Apple might begin its trial production of micro-LED displays. Although it's yet to be confirmed, Apple is likely to use such display technology on a version of the Apple Watch launched in 2018 or later.

The report, citing industry sources, states that Apple's current aim is to manufacture a "small volume" of products with micro-LED displays towards the end of this year. Reports over the past few weeks have referenced similar timelines for Apple's micro-LED plans, and today's news also corroborates the location of Apple's trial production run, expected to be housed in a plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

A few makers engaged in R&D for micro LED display products, despite many technological bottlenecks, are expected to take the initiative to begin trial production in the second half of 2017 at the earliest, according to industry sources.

Apple has been keen in the development of micro LED technology following its acquisition of LuxVue in 2014, and recent market speculations also indicate that Apple is likely to crank out a small volume of micro LED display products from its plant in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan at the end of the year.
Rumors of an Apple Watch with a micro-LED display began last summer, when it was suggested that such a device may launch in 2017, but with the current reports of late-in-the-year trial productions on micro-LED displays it's likely that the 2017 "Apple Watch Series 3" will continue to use OLED technology. In regards to advantages, devices with micro-LED have the chance to be thinner, lighter, see an improved color gamut with increased brightness, and sport higher resolutions.

Apple's production on micro-LED is said to be the final realization of its acquisition of low-power microLED-based display maker LuxVue in 2014. Similarly, Samsung has been rumored to acquire micro-LED company PlayNitride, which is expected to begin a trial production on the displays sometime in the second half of 2017. Foxconn has also announced plans to acquire display startup eLux, "for development of next-generation micro-LED display technology."

Although no direct connection with Apple has been made by the manufacturers, their previous history as suppliers for the Cupertino company points toward either company, or both, as additional micro-LED suppliers for a future generation Apple Watch. According to industry sources speaking on Foxconn's eLux purchase, "The acquisition could provide a fast track for Foxconn to commercialize micro-LED technology," bringing it to a wider range of consumer products.


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Apple Said to Be Increasing Production of Rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro

Apple is said to be boosting production of its upcoming 10.5-inch iPad Pro, making launch of the new form-factor tablet over the next couple of months increasingly possible, according to sources in the Taiwanese supply chain.

DigiTimes reported on Friday that shipments for the company's 10.5-inch iPad Pro are expected to increase to 600,000 units in July, up from around 500,000 units currently, with annual shipments said to reach 5 million units this year, said market watchers.


Previously, reports suggested Apple's manufacturing partners had begun limited production of the new-size tablet in March, when it remained unclear when the device would be announced. Rumors have lacked consensus regarding when Apple will launch the device, with suggestions of an early April event having failed to materialize.

However, since that time, noted KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed there is a "greater than 70 percent chance" that Apple will unveil the long-rumored tablet at WWDC in June, based on the timing of production ramp-up.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is expected to have a similar form factor as the current 9.7-inch model, squeezing in a larger display thanks to narrower bezels. Analysts say Apple is hoping the device will mark the company's resurgence in the tablet market, given that sales of iPads have declined for 13 consecutive quarters, with consumers seeing little reason to upgrade the tablets they already own.

However, at least one Apple pundit has suggested the company could wait until October to launch the 10.5-inch iPad, in order to avoid spoiling the the design of the much-rumored "iPhone 8" with an edge-to-edge OLED display, which is expected to be announced in September.

Today's DigiTimes report also touches on a rumored upgrade to Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with some market watchers claiming the device could begin mass production in June, "with stable shipments in the third quarter". Meanwhile, Apple's sale expectations for its recently launched 9.7-inch iPad are "expected to accelerate Apple's pace on phasing out the iPad mini 4 from the market", according to sources.
Demand for the tablet is expected to pick up strongly starting the end of the second quarter and will reach the peak in the third quarter, increasing the device's monthly shipments to over four million units in June and July, the market watchers noted.
Despite the launch of new iPads this year, market watchers still expect Apple's tablet shipments to fall compared to 2017. Worldwide tablet shipments were around 8.74 million units in the first quarter and the release of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro should shore up the second quarter's tablet shipments to 8.9 million units, claimed the report.

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Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: 9.7" iPad Pro (Don't Buy)

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Intel Rumored to Debut Basin Falls Platform in May, Launch Coffee Lake Chips in August

Intel plans to move up the launch of its 14-nanometer Coffee Lake processors, introducing them in August of 2017 instead of January 2018. According to DigiTimes, the launch is being moved up because of "increasing competition from AMD's Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 processors."

The site says Intel will release several K-series Core i3, i5, and i7 processors starting in August, along with its Z370 chipsets. Additional CPUs will come at the end of 2017 or early in 2018.

Intel also plans to unveil its Basin Falls platform, with Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors at Computex 2017, which takes place from May 30 to June 3, which is two months earlier than originally scheduled.


Intel's Skylake-X series features 140W processors with 6, 8, and 10-core architectures, while Kaby Lake X-series features a 112W quad-core processor. Intel also plans to release a 12-core Skylake-X processor in August. Intel's Basin Falls platform could potentially be used in future Mac Pro machines and the rumored high-end server-grade iMac.

Coffee Lake chips appropriate for Apple machines were originally set to launch somewhere around the second quarter of 2018, so if rumors of Intel's updated timeline are true, the launch could be moved forward to either late 2017 or early in 2018.

Coffee Lake chips are manufactured on Intel's 14-nanometer process and will be the fourth processor family to use the architecture after Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake.

Apple is rumored to have new machines in the works for 2017, including new iMacs, which are likely to use Kaby Lake chips.

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Tags: Intel, digitimes.com
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‘Apple Watch Series 3’ Models Expected in Second Half of 2017 With September Launch Likely

The next-generation Apple Watch is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2017, according to supply chain newspaper DigiTimes.


The timeline matches a Chinese-language Economic Daily News report that claimed new Apple Watch models will be unveiled in the third quarter of 2017, aka fall, with battery life and performance improvements.

Apple Watch Series 2 models and slightly upgraded Series 1 models launched in September alongside the iPhone 7, so it is reasonable to assume that Series 3 models could launch in September as well. The original Apple Watch, now dubbed Series 0, launched in April 2015.

In addition to a faster processor and longer battery life, cellular connectivity has been a long-rumored addition to the Apple Watch, and SIG analyst Christopher Rolland believes LTE capabilities could be included in Series 3 models. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also said LTE could be added as early as 2017.

With a cellular connection, Apple Watch owners would not need a paired iPhone nearby to do things like make phone calls or stream Apple Music content, but a separate data plan from a carrier would likely be needed.

Apple is also expected to switch to a glass-film touchscreen this year in place of the current touch-on-lens solution, but it is unclear if this change would have any obvious consumer-facing benefits.

The overall design of the Apple Watch has not changed since the original models launched in April 2015, but one report yet to be substantiated claims Series 3 models will have few if any significant hardware changes. Apple has instead introduced new bands each season to offer a fresh look and feel.

Few other details are known about the next Apple Watch at this point, and no parts have leaked from the supply chain yet.

Apple has filed patents for a number of ideas that could eventually be included in an Apple Watch, such as a heart rate identification system, modular bands, haptic feedback band, and a band with a built-in charger. More significant health and fitness features could be added pending further FDA approvals.

Quanta Computer is expected to remain the primary manufacturer of the Apple Watch, with some production reportedly shifting to Compal Electronics.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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10.5-Inch and 12.9-Inch iPads May Not Ship Until May or June

The 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPads that Apple is expected to debut at a March event aren't expected to ship until May or June, supply chain sources tell DigiTimes. An entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, however, is expected to ship within close proximity of the March event.

In January, DigiTimes reported that the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPads were expected to enter mass production in the Q2 of 2017 while the 9.7-inch iPad would enter mass production in Q1 2017. The potential release dates partly line up with a recent report from Mac Otakara, which said the 10.5-inch iPad may not be ready to ship until May. However, that report said the three other iPad models rumored to debut at the March event, new 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPads, are expected to ship in March.

12.9-inch iPad shipments have been drying up around the world in recent weeks, slipping to shipping estimates of 2-3 weeks in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. While increasing shipping times are a sign of an impending refresh, in this case it seems to be a supply issue.

During Apple's latest earning call, CEO Tim Cook said that the company underestimated iPad demand in the past quarter and had an issue with one of its suppliers. Cook said the issue would probably not be resolved this quarter, likely leading to shriveling 12.9-inch iPad stock. Similarly, the supply issue could keep the refreshed 12.9-inch iPad from shipping before May.

The new 10.5-inch model is expected to be the flagship model in Apple's new iPad lineup, sporting an edge-to-edge display on the same footprint as the current 9.7-inch iPad. Alongside new iPads at a March event, Apple is also expected to debut a 128 GB iPhone SE and red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus color variations.

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Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: 12.9" iPad Pro (Caution)

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New Touchscreen for ‘Apple Watch Series 3’ Said to Enter Production Later This Year

The tentatively named "Apple Watch Series 3" will feature a new glass-film touchscreen in place of the current touch-on-lens solution, with shipments to begin in the second half of this year, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes.

While it remains unclear if the switch to a film-based solution will have any obvious consumer-facing benefits, this is more interestingly the first rumor to surface about the supply chain ramping up for the next Apple Watch.

The timeline matches a Chinese report last month that claimed the third-generation Apple Watch will be unveiled in the third quarter of 2017 with battery life and performance improvements. The report said Series 3 models, to be manufactured by Quanta, will lack any significant hardware changes.

Few other details are known about the next Apple Watch models, which could feasibly launch alongside the "iPhone 8" in September.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and other sources have claimed the Apple Watch could gain an LTE chip for cellular capabilities as early as 2017, while a supply chain report last year said Apple may switch from OLED to micro-LED displays for the Apple Watch in the second half of 2017 at the earliest.

Micro-LED displays have benefits such as thinness, lightness, improved color gamut, increased brightness, and higher resolutions. The panels do not require backlighting like traditional LCD displays, but they can be difficult and expensive to mass produce. Micro LEDs range in size from 1-micron to 100-micron.

Apple has filed patents for a number of ideas that could eventually be included in an Apple Watch, such as a heart rate identification system, modular bands, haptic feedback band, and a band with a built-in charger. More significant health and fitness features could be added pending further FDA approvals.

Ahead of Apple Watch Series 3 models, Apple is expected to introduce new bands at its rumored iPad Pro-focused event next month.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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iPhone 7s Said to Keep Aluminum Design as iPhone 8 Gets Glass With Stainless Steel Frame

Apple's next-generation smartphone lineup this year will include a 4.7-inch iPhone with aluminum casing, 5.5-inch iPhone of an unspecified material, and all-new 5.8-inch iPhone with glass casing reinforced by a stainless steel frame, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes, which keeps tabs on Apple's supply chain.


The report, citing "sources from the upstream supply chain," claims the 5.8-inch model is expected to adopt an OLED display, and for that reason the smartphone is estimated to cost upwards of $1,000.

DisplayMate Technologies outlined the several advantages of OLED display technology when it tested Samsung's Galaxy S7 last year. Namely, the displays are typically brighter and more power efficient than LCDs with better color accuracy, faster response times, wider viewing angles, and improved image sharpness.

The trio of unreleased smartphones have commonly been referred to as the iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8, with the high-end model sometimes called the "iPhone X" instead in line with the smartphone's tenth anniversary this year. The smartphones are expected to launch in September per usual.

While it is widely believed that Apple will release three new iPhone models this year, rumors surrounding the lineup have so far lacked consensus. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities and Japanese website Nikkei, for example, have both said that all three models will feature glass casing.

Japanese website Mac Otakara, however, said the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models will retain an aluminum design like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, with only internal changes, including the addition of a faster A11 chip. Today's report echoes that at least the 4.7-inch model would indeed have an aluminum design.

The rumors suggest two possible scenarios:

Scenario A: Apple releases a completely overhauled glass-backed iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED display and wireless charging at the high end of its 2017 smartphone lineup, while making only incremental upgrades to its traditional 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones with aluminum designs and LCD displays.

Scenario B: Apple adds glass casing and wireless charging to all three iPhones, which could make an edge-to-edge OLED display and longer battery life the unique selling points of the high-end model. This would mark the end of the iPhone's aluminum design that has remained largely the same since the iPhone 6 in 2014.

Other rumored features for this year's iPhone lineup, some of which may be exclusive to the high-end model, include the removal of the Home button, iris or facial recognition, 3D camera features, improved IP68-rated water resistance, increased storage space, and new Taptic Engine and 3D Touch modules.

Apple is expected to begin production of the new iPhones next quarter, at which point rumors should start to become clearer.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: digitimes.com

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iPhone 8 Said to Feature Iris Scanner to Authenticate With Your Eyes

Apple is widely rumored to launch a high-end iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED display this year, which has been variously called the "iPhone 8" or "iPhone X" to commemorate the smartphone's tenth anniversary, and rumors suggest the device will an include iris scanner to authenticate with your eyes.

iPhone 8 concept by visual designer Moe Slah

Taiwanese website DigiTimes, citing unnamed "industry sources," claims the so-called "iPhone 8" will include an OLED display, wireless charging, and iris scanning technology, the latter of which would presumably enable iPhone users to unlock their device or use Apple Pay by authenticating with their eyes.

A person's iris, or the circular colored muscle of the eye, contains a complex and random pattern that is unique to each individual.

DigiTimes has sources within Apple's supply chain, but it has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's unannounced product plans, so this latest report should be treated with a proverbial grain of salt. The publication previously said iPhones with iris scanning capabilities would not debut until 2018.

DigiTimes previously cited a Chinese website that said 2017 iPhones will include iris scanning capabilities, but today's report is based on its own sources. The original report claimed Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, an affiliate of Apple manufacturer TSMC, would begin mass production of iris-recognition chips this year.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the more reliable sources of iPhone rumors, believes Apple is leaning toward facial recognition technology rather than iris recognition, based on the bio-recognition patents it has filed. Way back in March 2016, he said the "iPhone 8" will include either facial or iris recognition.

Kuo said he believes Touch ID will "ultimately be replaced by a facial recognition system" for enhanced security, in line with rumors Apple will remove the Home button; however, if the technical challenges cannot be overcome, he noted a "combination of fingerprint and facial recognition" is another possible solution.

Last month, Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri said the "iPhone 8" could include facial or gesture recognition technology powered by a laser sensor and an infrared sensor located near the front-facing camera. The feature could allow users to control their devices with simple gestures for tasks such as adjusting volume.

Lending credence to these rumors is Apple's trademark for "Iris Engine" and the acquisitions of companies such as Faceshift and PrimeSense.

iPhone would not be the first smartphone with an iris scanner, as Samsung included the technology on its now-discontinued Galaxy Note7.

DigiTimes also said the "iPhone 8" will enter production earlier than in previous years, in line with a report from earlier this week.
Apple has requested its chip and component suppliers start trial production, inspection and prepare inventories for the new iPhone series earlier than usual, said the sources. Deliveries of chips and parts for the new models are expected to kick off in the second half of first-quarter 2017, the sources indicated.
Apple's trio of new iPhones, including more iterative "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus" models, are still expected to launch in September per usual. The "iPhone 8" in particular may cost upwards of $1,000 in the U.S. due to its significant redesign and features that require more expensive parts.


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New iPads Might Not Launch Until Sometime in the Second Half of 2017

Apple's new line of iPad models might not launch "until the second half of 2017," according to sources in the upstream supply chain speaking with DigiTimes. The new 9.7-inch iPad is predicted to enter mass production sometime in Q1 2017, while the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad models will begin production in Q2 of this year. All of the new iPads are described as still being in the "planning" phase.

Although it was expected for Apple to announce and launch the new iPads during the Spring, the new report claims that "these tablets may not be announced or even released" until sometime in the second half of 2017. In December, "lower-than-expected" yield rates for the 10-nanometer manufacturing process was rumored to be a potential factor in a delayed launch for the new iPads.

ipadprosmartcover
Apple reportedly is planning three new tablets for 2017, a 9.7-inch iPad with a friendly price range, a 10.5-inch iPad, and an upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The products are still in planning, with the 9.7-inch model expected to enter mass production in the first quarter, and the other two in the second, according to sources from the related upstream supply chain.

However, these tablets may not be announced or even released in the market until the second half of 2017, the sources said.
In DigiTimes' report, the sources mentioned a 10.5-inch iPad, which is a size that was recently well-explained by Studio Neat designer Dan Provost as a logical choice for the middle-tier iPad. While multiple rumors placed the new iPad -- believed to be an iPad Pro -- somewhere in the 10-inch range, everything from a 10.1-inch to a 10.9-inch model has been reported.

According to the supply chain sources, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a contender to replace the price tier of the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro, while the new 9.7-inch version will be introduced at an even lower cost to become an entry-level device, "mainly targeting the education sector."

As previously reported, DigiTimes' sources today reiterated that the higher-end 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models will include an A10X processor. No mention was made of the 9.7-inch model and its processor, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last year predicted that the "low-cost" iPad would likely adopt a lower-end A9X processor.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is being positioned as a flagship model of the iPad line, believed to feature an edge-to-edge display without a home button, but retain a small portion of the top bezel in order to provide space for the front-facing FaceTime camera.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: 12.9" iPad Pro (Caution)

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