05/28 updated below. This post was originally posted on May 25th
Apple’s iPhone 14 range is likely to increase prices significantly. And now we have a better idea of why…
Popular Korean tech site ET News reports that Apple will be adding a South Korean front-facing camera to its smartphone for the first time in iPhone history. The camera will improve image quality significantly (broken down here) but comes at a staggering cost increase.
Update 5/27: More details on Apple’s iPhone 14 production plans have now been leaked, coming from two of the most credible sources in the industry. First celebrated Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has uncovered that the production of the new iPhone 14 Max is “lagging behind”. Kuo cites the lockdown in Shanghai as a factor, but is confident that “suppliers can work overtime to meet the schedule.”
Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and one of the most accurate industry insider. In reply to Kuo, Young Expectations that “iPhone 14 Max panel shipments have always been behind schedule” and “Not sure why.” Interesting. he speculates, “Maybe they have modest volume targets for this one.” It’s possible, but I suspect the iPhone 14 Max will be the most popular model in the iPhone 14 lineup.
In any case, Apple may be heading towards its first split release since the launch of the iPhone 12 in 2020 – which in turn was only the second in iPhone history (after the iPhone 8 / iPhone X). So if you want an iPhone 14 Max to launch, you need to act fast.
5/28 update: iPhone 14 components continue to leak at a pace. The mysterious industry insider ShrimpApplePro, who first unveiled the iPhone 14 Pro’s i-Cutout display in September followed by detailed dimensionshas now leaked the first details about its new A16 chip.
The tipster says his source understands that the A16 Bionic will continue to use the same 5nm (nanometer) manufacturing process as the A15 (2021) and A14 (2020) and will again be manufactured by TSMC. ShrimpApplePro also downplays rumors of big performance increases, saying, “Upgrades are a slightly better CPU, LPDDR5 RAM, and a better GPU.”
The big push here is the move to LPDDR5 memory, which is 1.5x faster and 30% more energy efficient than the LPDDR4X memory used in the iPhone 13. However, memory alone won’t deliver the big leaps in performance that we’ve seen on some new iPhone chip generations.
Interestingly, it sounds like Apple’s recent admission that supply lines are constrained that Apple’s M2 chip will be Apple’s next leap in innovation. ShrimpApplePro reports It’s the chip moving to 3nm – something previously tipped for the A16 – and that’s understandable given its use in the iPad, Mac and MacBook ranges. 3nm is said to reduce power consumption by 25-30% compared to 5nm chips, allowing for higher clock speeds and improved performance.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 chipset mystery continues. We may have our first details on the A16 chip, though Several leaks have claimed The chip will only be available for iPhone 16 Pro models – possibly as “A16 Pro” – with the iPhone 13’s A15 chip used in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max and renamed “A16”. How Apple fans would react to this strategy remains to be seen…
Citing industry sources, ET News claims that Apple was forced to quickly change its plans for the iPhone 14’s front camera after “quality issues from Chinese manufacturers” during testing. As a result, Apple will install a camera module from LG Innotek, which was originally intended for the iPhone 15, later this year.
The good news is that ET News reports that the module is the first to bring advanced features to the iPhone’s front camera, including autofocus. This is somewhat respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed first back in April with autofocus joining an improved aperture for better depth of field in portrait mode and video calls.
The downside is the cost. According to ET News’ source, “The unit price of the iPhone 14’s front camera has increased nearly three times compared to previous models.” This is the largest component price increase I can recall. In the past, Apple’s move to dual and then triple rear cameras and the addition of a high refresh rate display have all come at an additional cost, but not a 3x multiple.
All of this adds to the narrative that Apple will increase iPhone prices by $100 for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the new iPhone 14 Max will cost at least $200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini, that replaces it.
On the other hand, following multiple reports that the standard iPhone 14 will be little more than a (possibly controversial) reboot of the iPhone 13, the jump in front-facing camera quality could be one of the phone’s biggest selling points. Especially with the upsurge in video calling over the last few years.
Revelations that Apple is surprisingly planning to switch the 2023 iPhone range to USB-C and redesign base models means I still think this is a bad year for an upgrade. But for determined upgraders, things just got a little better.
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