2018 iPhones to Feature Upgraded Antenna Design to Boost LTE Transmission Speeds

Apple's upcoming 2018 iPhones will feature upgraded liquid crystal polymer (LCP) antenna modules that will contribute to faster LTE transmission speeds, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said tonight in a note that was sent out to investors.

Kuo says new iPhone models will use at least two LCP LTE antenna modules, much like the iPhone X, but with improvements to support 4x4 MIMO standards.

Antenna design upgrade a key factor in anticipated boost to LTE transmission speed in new 2H18F iPhone models. As a LTE antenna FPCB material, LCP is superior to PI in properties related to high-frequency, thermal performance and moisture resistance. We predict 2H18 new iPhones will be equipped with two LCP LTE antenna modules same as iPhone X or more, but with higher specs to support 4x4 MIMO standards.
Last week, Kuo said Apple is expected to use Intel XMM 7560 and Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 modems in its next-generation iOS devices, enabling faster LTE transmission speeds. Both of those chips support the previously mentioned 4x4 MIMO technology, compared to 2x2 MIMO in the current iPhone models.

4x4 MIMO, or Multiple-Input Multiple-Output has the potential to significantly improve LTE transmission speeds by increasing the number of data paths between a cellular tower and an iOS device to four.

In previous notes, Kuo has said Apple is working on a total of three iPhones for 2018, including a 5.8-inch OLED model that's similar to the current iPhone X, a 6.5-inch OLED model that can be thought of as a sort of "iPhone X Plus," and a new 6.1-inch LCD model, designed to sell at a lower price point. All three, says Kuo, will include edge-to-edge iPhone X-style displays and Face ID support.

Kuo believes Apple will ship an estimated 100 to 120 million iPhone units in the second half of 2018, something he has previously said will fuel an upgrade "supercycle" during the year.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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KGI: Next Year’s iPhone Models to Have Upgraded Intel and Qualcomm Modems Enabling Faster LTE Speeds

Apple's next-generation iPhone models released in 2018 will feature Intel's XMM 7560 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon X20 modems, enabling faster LTE transmission speeds, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Image: KGI Securities

Kuo highlighted that both new chips support 4x4 MIMO technology, compared to only 2x2 MIMO in the latest iPhone models, which leads him to believe LTE transmission speeds will increase significantly in 2018 iPhones.

In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo predicted Intel supply Apple with 70 to 80 percent or more of the baseband chips.
New baseband chips from Intel & Qualcomm will significantly boost transmission speed of new 2H18 iPhone models thanks to supporting 4x4 MIMO antenna design: We believe that 2H18 new iPhones will upgrade baseband chips from Intel’s XMM 7480 and Qualcomm's MDM 9655 in 2H17 to Intel’s XMM 7560 and Qualcomm's SDX 20. As both new chips support 4x4 MIMO technology, compared to only 2x2 MIMO in 2H17, we anticipate LTE transmission speeds will increase significantly. We believe Intel will supply Apple with 70-80% or more of required baseband chips.
Kuo also predicted that next year's iPhone models will support dual-SIM dual standby (DSDS), with support for LTE+LTE connections, which allows two SIM cards to be active simultaneously using only one set of chips.
2H18 iPhone models won't only offer faster LTE transmission speed: We predict that at least one of the 2H18 new iPhone models will feature dual-SIM dual standby (DSDS) with support for LTE+LTE connections. Unlike existing DSDS phones, which commonly support LTE+3G connections, we believe next-generation iPhone models will support LTE+LTE connections, in a bid to enhance the user experience.
It's not entirely clear if the new iPhones would have a dual SIM card slot or if one of the SIM cards would be embedded into the device.


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KGI: Apple to Launch 6.5-Inch ‘iPhone X Plus’ Next Year Alongside 5.8-Inch OLED and 6.1-Inch LCD Models

Apple will launch a trio of new iPhone models in 2018, including 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models with OLED displays and a 6.1-inch model with an LCD display, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Kuo believes all three models will be equipped with a full-screen design and TrueDepth camera system like the iPhone X.

In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said the 6.1-inch model will have a lower-resolution LCD display and target the low-end and mid-range markets with an estimated $649 to $749 starting price in the United States.
Two new OLED models target high-end market; new TFT-LCD model aims at low-end & midrange markets: We believe the major hardware difference in the two new OLED models is size, in a bid to satisfy various needs of the high-end market. 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).
If accurate, next year's new iPhone lineup would consist of the second-generation iPhone X with the same size screen, a larger 6.5-inch version that we're tentatively calling the iPhone X Plus, and a mid-range 6.1-inch LCD model that adopts some iPhone X features but with a cheaper price point.

Kuo is upbeat about shipments and expects all three new iPhone models to launch without any delays in 2018 given Apple's supply chain will be well experienced with iPhone X production by next year.


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iPhone 8 Production Said to Drop Significantly Given Popularity of iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X

With fewer major selling points and given a consumer preference for the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects iPhone 8 production to see a 50-60 percent sequential decline this quarter.


In his latest research note for KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said the lower-than-expected iPhone 8 demand could result in fewer orders for Apple supplier Pegatron, which assembles the iPhone 8 in Taiwan.
Pegatron — iPhone 8 production to decline 50-60% QoQ in 1Q18F on lower-than-expected demand: With fewer major selling points and given a consumer preference for iPhone 8 Plus on a limited price gap, we expect iPhone 8 production orders to see 50-60% QoQ decline in 1Q18F, potentially shrinking Pegatron's utilization rate. But considering new iPhone orders may become more diverse (compared with a single model of iPhone 8 in 2H17), and assuming the new models will come with more compelling features than iPhone 8, we are positive on Pegatron's growth momentum in 2H18F.
Just this week, research firm Canalys said the iPhone 8 Plus outpaced the iPhone 8 last quarter with shipments of 6.3 million units versus 5.4 million units respectively. Canalys said the iPhone 8 Plus is the first Plus-sized iPhone to out-ship its smaller 4.7-inch sibling in a single quarter.

Apple doesn't disclose iPhone sales on a model-by-model basis, but chief executive Tim Cook said the iPhone 8 Plus has "gotten off to the fastest start of any Plus model," which came as "a bit of a surprise" to the company.

Kuo remains positive about iPhone X demand, and estimates production will rise 35-45 percent this quarter compared to last quarter, which should help to alleviate supply constraints heading into the holiday shopping season. The device still has a 3-4 week shipping delay online, with limited in-store availability.

Kuo said Apple's primary manufacturer Foxconn will convert its iPhone 8 Plus production lines into iPhone X lines in late 2017 to fulfill additional orders. Still, Apple is unlikely to achieve supply-demand balance until 2018.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X

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Ming-Chi Kuo: 2018 iPhones Will Have ‘More Complex’ Metal Frames for Improved Cellular Signal Transmission

While the iPhone X launched just three days ago, we're already starting to hear rumors about what to expect from next year's models.


Specifically, oft-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes iPhones released in 2018 will feature a "more complex" metal frame design and casing assembly for the purpose of improving data transmission quality.

An excerpt of Kuo's research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors:
Orders for 2H18F iPhones are market focus; both Catcher and Casetek have won new orders. We believe the metal frame of 2H18F iPhone models will be composed of more parts (iPhone X has four parts) for improving data transmission quality. We believe Apple will need more metal frame and casing assembly capacity and new suppliers because of more complex metal frame design and casing assembly, while models equipped with AMOLED and stainless steel metal frame will increase to two (vs. only one — iPhone X — in 2H17). We expect Catcher will obtain stainless steel metal frame and casing assembly orders. If Casetek can pass certification in late 4Q17 or early 1Q18, it also may win aluminum metal frame and casing assembly orders.
Kuo said Taiwanese suppliers Catcher Technology and Casetek have won orders from Apple for the new metal frames, including two models with stainless steel frames, which likely includes the iPhone X and so-called iPhone X Plus.

Kuo has previously said that Apple will likely expand Face ID to all iPhone models in 2018, with a complete abandonment of Touch ID. He also said 2018 iPhones are unlikely to gain a rear-facing TrueDepth camera system.


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Ming-Chi Kuo: 2018 iPhones Will Have ‘More Complex’ Metal Frames for Improved Cellular Signal Transmission

While the iPhone X launched just three days ago, we're already starting to hear rumors about what to expect from next year's models.


Specifically, oft-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes iPhones released in 2018 will feature a "more complex" metal frame design and casing assembly for the purpose of improving data transmission quality.

An excerpt of Kuo's research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors:
Orders for 2H18F iPhones are market focus; both Catcher and Casetek have won new orders. We believe the metal frame of 2H18F iPhone models will be composed of more parts (iPhone X has four parts) for improving data transmission quality. We believe Apple will need more metal frame and casing assembly capacity and new suppliers because of more complex metal frame design and casing assembly, while models equipped with AMOLED and stainless steel metal frame will increase to two (vs. only one — iPhone X — in 2H17). We expect Catcher will obtain stainless steel metal frame and casing assembly orders. If Casetek can pass certification in late 4Q17 or early 1Q18, it also may win aluminum metal frame and casing assembly orders.
Kuo said Taiwanese suppliers Catcher Technology and Casetek have won orders from Apple for the new metal frames, including two models with stainless steel frames, which likely includes the iPhone X and so-called iPhone X Plus.

Kuo has previously said that Apple will likely expand Face ID to all iPhone models in 2018, with a complete abandonment of Touch ID. He also said 2018 iPhones are unlikely to gain a rear-facing TrueDepth camera system.


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Apple Likely to Retain iPhone X Dual-Lens Camera Design for 2018 iPhones

Apple is likely to retain the all-plastic lens system used in the iPhone X for its 2018 iPhone range, according to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a research note for KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said he disagrees with market speculation that Apple will implement a 7P (seven-lens plastic) or a 2G3P (two-glass, three plastic) lens design for the rear-facing camera modules in next year's iPhone line-up.

With its rear camera specs, iPhone X has managed to strike a phenomenal balance between picture quality and form factor design, in our opinion, given how far we've come today technologically. Switching from a 6P lens to a 7P lens or a 2G3P hybrid lens, with camera module design largely similar to iPhone X's, would make for only limited improvements in aperture performance, we believe.
In addition, Kuo believes that moving to a new 7P or hybrid lens design would incur unnecessary risk on the supply of iPhones in 2018, and Apple is unlikely to make any manufacturing choices that could bring about a repeat of the supply constraints related to this year's iPhone X.

Should Apple retain the 6P lens design on its 2018 iPhones, Kuo thinks Apple supplier Largan can expect slightly higher market share, although its leading market position will likely remain unchanged. The company commands the world's largest lens capacity, while its prowess in design and assembly can be carried toward upgrades of future generations of 7P lens or hybrid lens.

The iPhone 7 Plus was the first handset to adopt the dual-lens design, which includes a wide angle and a telephoto lens, while the iPhone 8 Plus builds on the improved performance by using a more advanced sensor module. The iPhone X camera basically uses the same design as the iPhone 8 Plus, with the exception of an additional optical image stabilization component for the telephoto lens.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Ming-Chi Kuo Says 2018 iPhones Unlikely to Have Rear-Facing TrueDepth Camera System

Apple is unlikely to expand its front-facing TrueDepth system for Face ID and Animoji to the rear-facing camera module on iPhones released in 2018, according to oft-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


In a research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said the iPhone X's 3D sensing capabilities are already at least one year ahead of Android smartphones. For that reason, he thinks Apple's focus with next year's iPhone models will be ensuring an on-time launch with adequate supply.
Based on aforementioned assumptions, we do not expect 2H18F iPhones to come with rear TrueDepth Camera/3D sensing, contrary to market expectations. While we agree that a rear TrueDepth Camera/3D sensing can potentially provide more augmented reality (AR) applications, we note that Apple needs to quickly resolve two issues if it wants 2H18F iPhones to have a rear TrueDepth Camera/3D sensing, namely: (1) the development of AI and ARKit software and an ecosystem, which takes time; and (2) achieving stable shipments and on-time shipping, which are challenging due to the higher spec requirements of rear TrueDepth camera.
Even without rear TrueDepth, Kuo believes 2018 iPhone models will unsurprisingly come with other tech spec upgrades to attract consumers. He has a positive view on the prospects of the new iPhone models.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Ming-Chi Kuo Says iPhone X’s TrueDepth Production Issues Stabilizing, Won’t Affect Next Year’s Models

While the iPhone X has reportedly faced production issues related to the TrueDepth camera, resulting in shipment delays, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said supply of components for the facial recognition system is now stable.


In a research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo added that Apple wont "repeat the mistake" of delayed production with next year's iPhone models, which he predicts will "arrive on time" under "stable supply."
Apple won't repeat the mistake of supply disruption & delayed production as seen with iPhone X. We believe shipments of new 2H18F iPhones will arrive on time under stable supply in late 3Q18F. And given no major spec upgrade of TrueDepth camera on these new models, we believe Apple will continue to use the same WLO for dot projector and 4P lens of infrared camera as iPhone X. We believe the supply of both components are now stable, leaving no need to switch to other solutions.
Kuo expects new iPhone models launching in the second half of 2018 to adopt the same wafer level optics for the TrueDepth system's dot projector, and the same 4P lens for the infrared camera, as the iPhone X.

iPhone X pre-orders began on Friday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, and shipping estimates have remained at 5-6 weeks since a few hours after that time.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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KGI: iPhone X Production Woes Ending, but Only 2–3 Million Units Available for Launch

With just one week to go until pre-orders for the iPhone X begin, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new report indicating that the "worst [will] soon [be] over" with regards to production difficulties.


According to Kuo, the biggest hurdle has likely been the flexible printed circuit board (FPCB) for the device's antenna, due to increased complexity and initial supply chain partner Murata's inability to meet specifications.
Special materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are required for antenna FPCB, as the specifications for iPhone X antenna (supplied by Amphenol (US)) are higher than those of iPhone 8 and only Murata (JP) and Career Tech (6153 TT, NT$30.1, NR) can meet Apple's requirements. Murata (originally with a 60% order allocation or higher) won't be able to resolve its issues before 2Q18, and thus has been fully replaced by second supplier Career. We believe Career will ramp up in November, as capacity expansion takes time, and its materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are different from those of Murata.
A secondary bottleneck appears to have been the FPCB for the wide-angle rear camera lens. Unlike competing dual-lens camera smartphones from Samsung and Huawei, the iPhone X's wide-angle and telephoto lenses use separate PCBs, and supplier Interflex has reportedly struggled with quality issues on the part for the wide-angle lens.

The third bottleneck that has received signifcant attention in recent weeks is the TrueDepth camera's infrared dot projector, or the "Romeo" component. According to Kuo, previous design issues that led to poor facial recognition have been addressed and the "worst is behind us."

Overall, Kuo is cutting his iPhone X shipment estimates for the fourth quarter to 25–30 million units, down from 30–35 million, and he expects that 2–3 million units will be shipped into distribution channels ahead of the launch. As a result, initial supplies will be very tight, as has been extensively rumored. Kuo says shipments will "pick up markedly" in the first quarter of 2018.

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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