05/28 Update below. This article was originally published on May 25
Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup looks ready to go raise prices significantly. And now we have a better idea why…
Popular Korean tech site ET News reports that, for the first time in iPhone history, Apple will install a South Korean front-facing camera in its smartphone. The camera will bring major improvements in image quality (broken down here), but comes with exorbitant cost increases.
Update 5/27: Further details on Apple’s iPhone 14 production plans have now been leaked and they come from two of the industry’s most credible sources. First acclaimed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has revealed that the production of the new iPhone 14 Max “is falling behind”. Kuo cites Shanghai’s lockdown as a factor, but says he hopes “suppliers can work overtime to catch up with the schedule.”
Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and one of the most accurate insiders in the industry. In response to Kuo, Young complaints that “iPhone 14 Max panel shipments have always been late” adding “I don’t know why”. Interesting way. he speculates “Maybe they have modest volume goals for this one.” It’s possible, but I suspect the iPhone 14 Max will be the most popular model in the iPhone 14 lineup.
Either way, Apple is potentially heading towards its first split release since the iPhone 12 launched 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 at launch, you’ll need to act fast.
Update 05/28: iPhone 14 components continue to leak at a rapid pace. Mysterious industry insider ShrimpApplePro, who first revealed the iPhone 14 Pro’s i-cutout display in September followed by detailed dimensionshas now leaked the first details of 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 once again be manufactured by TSMC. ShrimpApplePro also plays down rumors of major performance boosts, saying “the upgrades are a slightly better CPU, LPDDR5 RAM, and better GPU.”
The big boost here is the switch to LPDDR5 memory, which is 1.5 times faster and 30% more power efficient than the LPDDR4X memory used in the iPhone 13. That said, memory alone won’t provide the big leaps in performance we’ve seen from some new generations of iPhone chips.
Interestingly, with Apple’s recent admission that supply lines are limited, it looks like Apple’s M2 chip is where the next leap in innovation will occur. ShrimpApplePro reports it’s the chip that will step up to 3nm – something previously planned for the A16 – and that’s understandable given its use across the iPad, Mac and MacBook ranges. 3nm should reduce power consumption 25-30% compared to 5nm chips, allowing for higher clock rates and improved performance.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 chipset mystery continues. We may have our first details on the A16 chip, but several leaks have claimed the chip will only come to iPhone 16 Pro models – potentially as “A16 Pro” – with the A15 chip from the iPhone 13 used in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max and renamed “A16”. It remains to be seen how Apple fans would react to this strategy…
Citing industry sources, ET News claims that Apple was forced to quickly change its plans for the iPhone 14’s front camera following “quality issues from Chinese manufacturers” during testing. Therefore, this year Apple will install an LG Innotek camera module which was originally intended for the iPhone 15.
The good news is that ET News is reporting that the mod brings advanced functionality to the iPhone’s front camera for the first time, including autofocus. That’s something respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first revealed in April with autofocus joining an improved aperture for better depth of field in Portrait mode and video calling.
The downside is the cost. According to the ET News source, “the unit price of the front camera of the iPhone 14 has almost tripled compared to previous models”. This is the biggest component price increase I can remember. Historically, Apple’s moves to dual and then triple rear cameras and the addition of a high refresh rate display all come at an additional cost, but not a multiple of 3x.
This all adds to the narrative that Apple will raise iPhone prices $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 it replaces.
On the other hand, following several reports that the standard iPhone 14 will be little more than a (potentially controversial) iPhone 13 redesign, the leap forward in front-facing camera quality could be one of the phone’s biggest selling points. Especially with the take-off of video calling in recent years.
Revelations Apple Surprisingly Plans To Make switch the iPhone range to USB-C in 2023 and redesign base models means I still think it’s a bad year to upgrade. But for determined enhancers, things have gotten a little better.
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