digitimes.com

DigiTimes is a Taiwan-based website that shares rumors gleaned from Apple's asian supply chain, obtaining information from the suppliers who manufacture parts for iPhones and other Apple products.

DigiTimes' sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple's plans. DigiTimes receives a flood of data from the Asian supply chain, some of which it claims pertains to prototypes or test products that never make it to market or change significantly before launch, skewing its accuracy.

It is often best to view DigiTimes rumors with some skepticism until the info is corroborated by additional sources, especially when it comes to rumors that seem particularly outlandish or implausible.

'digitimes.com' Articles

Apple to Forge 'iPhone 8' Chassis Frame From Stainless Steel Instead of Aluminum

Apple is expected to adopt a forged stainless steel crafting process for its glass-encased "iPhone 8", rather than use traditional aluminum CNC machining. Taiwanese sources from the upstream supply chain apparently confirmed the transition on Tuesday, according to DigiTimes, with component orders expected to be shared between Foxconn and U.S.-based Jabil. Edge-to-edge iPhone concept image via ConceptsiPhone The next-generation iPhone is expected to abandon its conventional aluminum back cover design and will adopt a new design using two reinforced glass panes and a metal frame in the middle. The metal bezel will be made of stainless steel using a forging process to enhance its sturdiness and reduce costs and manufacturing time.The stainless steel process was last used by Apple in the iPhone 4s handset, which encased a "glass sandwich" chassis in two CNC-machined steel bands. However, every succeeding iPhone iteration has used aluminum because the alloy offers heightened structural rigidity while remaining relatively lightweight. Supply chain sources said the cost of the forging process is between 30 percent and 50 percent cheaper than the current unibody CNC machine process, while quality control is also more stable. Despite the switch, Apple is expected to continue outsourcing orders for internal structural parts to Catcher Technology and Casetek, because the stainless steel bezel will require further refinement using traditional CNC machining. Today's report supports recent rumors indicating at least one model of iPhone this year will have a redesigned

Foxconn Taking Advantage of Sharp Acquisition With OLED Production Line Set for Upcoming iPhones

Sharp is gearing up to help create OLED displays for the iPhone inside of Foxconn's "iPhone City" plant in Zhengzhou, China, according to a new report by Nikkei (via DigiTimes). Foxconn acquired Sharp in 2016, and soon after reports emerged that Foxconn would use its newly acquired investment in Sharp to become a major OLED supplier for Apple. Today's report points toward the OLED displays being manufactured for iPhone models further down the line than the upcoming 2017 model. Production on the Sharp line in the Foxconn plant is believed to begin "sometime in 2019," with around $864 million being spent on OLED production specifically for upcoming iPhones. Sharp plans to invest JPY100 billion (US$864 million) to set up an OLED production line at Foxconn Electronics' factory in Zhengzhou City, northern China, with production to begin in 2019, according to Japan-based Nikkei. As Foxconn produces iPhones at the factory, the OLED capacity is believed to be specifically for supplying OLED panels for upcoming iPhone models. According to recent rumors, Apple will launch at least one iPhone model with an OLED screen in 2017. From there, the actual design of the OLED screen has been conflicting, including reports that the screen will wrap around the edges of the device, or potentially a more traditional screen that still eliminates the bezels but includes a stainless steel frame. Because OLED displays are more difficult to produce in mass quantities, in comparison to LCD displays, Apple's suppliers will be unable to meet the company's production capacity for the 2017

AirPods Supplier Increasing Production Capacity Due to Strong Demand

AirPods manufacturer Inventec is planning to expand production capacity for the wireless headphones in the wake of high consumer demand during the holiday season. In a new report by China's Economic Daily News (via DigiTimes), the supplier is rumored to have begun expanding capacity in a few of its Shanghai plants. The report noted that Inventec has recently started expanding capacity at its Shanghai plants in order to satisfy increasing demand for the earphones and the plants are currently working overtime to deliver orders. After the AirPods went on sale on December 13, the headphones quickly slipped to shipping estimates from 4 weeks and then to 6 weeks. Thanks to positive initial impressions from the first group of customers, and increased fervor to purchase the AirPods for the holidays, many users began seeking ways to buy the headphones before Christmas, including third-party retailers like Best Buy and Target. Estimated arrival dates have improved for many customers who were placed with lengthy month-long shipping estimates at first, and it appears that Inventec intends to continue to meet customer demand by "working overtime to deliver orders." This week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the AirPods "a runaway success," commenting on the fact that "we're making them just as fast as we can" so as many of its fans can get a pair of the headphones as soon as possible. Overall, Cook said that Apple has had "a great

Samsung Again Rumored to Be Exclusive Supplier of 5.8-Inch OLED Displays for 2017 iPhone

Samsung Display has again been rumored as the exclusive supplier of OLED panels for the 2017 iPhone, according to new claims made by sources in the Taiwan supply chain (via DigiTimes). Back in April, The Korea Herald reported that Samsung would supply Apple with OLED panels in 2017, furthering rumors from as early as January that Apple and Samsung were in talks for an OLED manufacturing partnership. Next year's iPhone is said to come in 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch, and 5.8-inch sizes, with the last model believed to be the only iPhone with an OLED display. The OLED version's actual touch-sensitive screen real estate may in fact be closer to 5.5-inches, or possibly 5.1- and 5.2-inches, if the rumor of a curved display is true. Samsung's current estimates place the company at manufacturing 20 million units per month, according to the supply chain sources. The company's shipments of OLED units are estimated to reach 590 million by 2019. As for benefits, OLED screens can be brighter, clearer, and lead to more energy efficient iPhones. Samsung Display will become the exclusive supplier of AMOLED panels for use in Apple's new iPhone devices to be launched in 2017 and can supply 20 million units in maximum a month, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers. Apple will launch 4.7-, 5.5- and 5.8-inch new iPhone models in second-half 2017, with TFT-LCD panels to be used in the former two models and AMOLED for the 5.8-inch one, the sources said. Global shipments of the AMOLED iPhone in 2017 are estimated at 60-70 million units, the sources noted. In a separate DigiTimes report

Rumored March 2017 iPad Update in Question Due to Poor Chip Yield Rates

Sources in Apple's supply chain are suggesting that "lower-than-expected" yield rates for the 10-nanometer manufacturing process could "disrupt the schedule" of next year's iPad launch, previously rumored to be coming in March 2017 (via DigiTimes). Specifically, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung are said to be facing the biggest issues with their 10nm processes, and TSMC's in turn has the potential to delay production for the A10X chips in the next-generation of iPads. Apple typically sticks to the same manufacturing process for "X" labeled chips, and the current-generation A10 chip was crafted using the 16-nanometer process. The move to a more efficient 10nm chip in a new iPad line, while still unconfirmed, would go towards making the tablet more power efficient and able to fuel a speedier operating system experience for users. TSMC has reportedly obtained 10nm chip orders from Apple, HiSilicon and MediaTek, with volume production set to kick off in the first quarter of 2017. Nevertheless, yield rates for TSMC's 10nm process technology are not what the foundry expected, the sources said. TSMC is scheduled to start making Apple's A10X chips for the next-generation iPad series slated for launch in March 2017. Unsatisfactory yields for the foundry's 10nm process could disrupt the schedule, the sources indicated. Recent rumors suggest that the 2017 line of iPads will include three models: refreshed 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions, along with an all-new bezel-free 10.9-inch model. The new bezel-free model is said to be a thicker iPad at 7.5mm (the

Apple Tells Suppliers to Expect Strong MacBook Pro Shipments Going into 2017

Apple has told part and component manufacturers of its new MacBook Pro line-up to expect strong shipments to last until at least the end of 2016, according to sources in the upstream supply chain (via DigiTimes). Apple is reportedly optimistic about fourth-quarter sales of its new notebooks and expects MacBook Pro shipments to maintain the same level going into 2017, said the sources, while related revenues and profits are all projected to enjoy growth next year. The same sources noted that Apple was initially not very aggressive about placing new MacBook Pro orders and was also said to have delayed the product shipment schedule by a calendar quarter, due to low yield rates for some components including hinges, battery and keyboard. Apple's stance changed after the October launch, however, and some market analysts now expect MacBook Pro shipments to reach 15 million units in 2016, with shipments staying at that level in 2017. Meanwhile, Taiwanese ODM manufacturer Wistron has reportedly landed orders for the OLED Touch Bar strip used in Apple's higher tier notebooks, according to a report in the Economic Daily News (EDN), summarized by DigiTimes. The Chinese language daily quoted market watchers who said that the keyboard is hard to build and its original Singapore-based supplier was having difficulties meeting Apple's demand, prompting Apple to transfer orders to Wistron. The delayed launch of the new MacBook Pros was partly because of low yields of the keyboards, but shipments are starting to pick up as yield rates improve, said EDN.

Apple Hikes Order Volumes for iPhone 7 Parts in Wake of Samsung Recall

Apple has reportedly hiked orders for parts and components required for the production of the upcoming iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, according to sources from the supply chain in Taiwan (via DigiTimes). Apple shipped on average 30 million iPhone 6s units a month in the second half of 2015. The company originally predicted shipments of the iPhone 7 this year would reach only 60 percent of that number over the same period, but supply chain sources are today reporting that Apple has boosted its original prediction by 10 percent. Dummy mockups of iPhone 7 handsets The hike in order volumes suggests Apple is increasingly upbeat about demand for the new devices among existing iPhone owners seeking to upgrade, despite relatively subdued interest in the iPhone 7 models compared to the pre-launch buzz of previous years. Another potential factor in Apple's upward revision is Samsung's global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last week, which followed numerous complaints that the device caught fire while charging. The news arguably couldn't have come at a worse time for Apple's biggest rival, which has pitched its Note 7 as a direct competitor to Apple's 5.5-inch iPhones. Samsung has already voluntarily pulled its flagship device from 10 countries, including South Korea and the U.S. Target has reportedly stopped selling the phone, while Amazon and Best Buy have also said they are no longer selling the Note 7. In the latest blow, Consumer Reports has called for an official recall which would make it illegal to sell the phones in the U.S. Samsung has told customers it

Next Year's iPhone Said to Include Iris Scanner to Authenticate With Your Eyes

Apple is planning to include iris scanning capabilities on the tenth-anniversary iPhone launching in 2017, according to a Chinese-language MoneyDJ report translated by DigiTimes. The latter website, citing supply chain sources, previously said the feature would not debut on iPhones until at least 2018. An iris scanner could complement or replace Touch ID as a way to verify a user's identity, enabling iPhone users to unlock their smartphone, make payments, and more 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. An iris scanner on a smartphone would not be unprecedented, as Samsung included one on the new Galaxy Note7 released earlier this month. Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, an affiliate of Apple manufacturer TSMC, will begin mass production of iris-recognition chips in 2017, likely in an effort to secure orders from Apple and other smartphone vendors next year:Xintec is expected to enter mass production for iris-recognition chips in 2017, which will boost the backend house's revenues for the year, the report cited market watchers as saying. New orders for iris-recognition sensors include those for the chips that will be embedded in the 2017 series of iPhone, the watchers were also quoted in the report.Xintec said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation about specific products or customer orders. Based on rumors, Apple's tenth-anniversary iPhone is shaping up to be a more significant upgrade compared to the iPhone 7 series

Apple May Use OLED Only Briefly Until Micro-LED Displays Are Ready

While several rumors point towards Apple releasing its first iPhone models with OLED displays next year, the head of LCD manufacturer Innolux Wang Jyh-chau believes that OLED is unlikely to fully replace LCD technology in terms of performance-cost ratio and reliability long term, according to DigiTimes. Instead, a new display technology called Micro-LED could eventually replace LCD to become the mainstream display technology, as noted by Innolux vice president and mobile product general manager Yang Hung-wen.In response to market speculation that Apple will adopt OLED for its new iPhone to be launched in 2017, Innolux vice president and mobile product general manager Yang Hung-wen indicated that in order for product differentiation, Apple is likely to do so but it is uncertain whether it will be on a long-term basis, especially when Apple is developing Micro LED on its own.Apple reportedly opened a secret laboratory in northern Taiwan last year to develop thinner, lighter, brighter, and more energy-efficient displays for future iOS devices, recruiting talent from local display maker AU Optronics and Qualcomm subsidiary SolLink. The report described the new displays as more advanced versions of LCDs currently used in iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other devices. A subsequent report said Apple may be developing Micro-LED technology at the factory following its acquisition of Micro-LED company LuxVue Technology in 2014. In December 2013, LuxVue raised $25.2 million in funding to pursue the display technology, and the company also filed several Micro-LED patents. At the

Taiwan Component Makers Refuse to Lower Quotes For iPhone 7 Parts

Apple's demand that overseas suppliers lower their quotes for iPhone 7 parts and components has been met with resistance from makers, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. Apple is said to have asked downstream part and component suppliers, excluding TSMC and Largan Precision, to reduce their quotes for iPhone 7 devices by as much as 20 percent, even though order volumes for new phones are reportedly 30 percent lower than those placed a year earlier. Apple is reportedly using the rising handset supply chain in China to force Taiwan-based companies to make their quotes more competitive. However, DigiTimes suggests Apple's policy of squeezing out profits from Taiwan suppliers "makes no sense" because "the quality of products rolled out by Taiwan- and China-based suppliers is standing at different levels". Whether or not quality is an issue, major downstream suppliers including Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and associated companies under the Foxconn Group have told Apple that they cannot accept orders without reasonable profits. Apple reportedly chose to exclude TSMC and Largan from its demands because the company is finding it hard to find alternatives that offer foundry services or high-end camera modules, respectively. Meanwhile, ASE has seen its business grow steadily in recent years and optimized its advanced packaging technology by expanding its client base through a merger agreement with fellow company Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL). Foxconn Group, for its part, has acquired Japan-based Sharp, which will reportedly keep its

256GB Storage Rumor Gaining Steam as iPhone 7 Launch Approaches

iPhone users that elect not to use iCloud storage will be pleased to learn that another source has thrown its weight behind at least one iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus model having 256GB of flash storage. DigiTimes, citing industry sources, is the latest to claim the iPhone 7 will feature up to 256GB of storage, corroborating previous reports from Chinese website MyDrivers and Taiwanese research firm TrendForce.NAND flash vendors have increased chip prices citing strong demand for new smartphones particularly the iPhone 7 featuring up to 256GB of storage, according to industry sources. Prices will keep soaring until the fourth quarter of 2016.In July, The Wall Street Journal confirmed the iPhone 7 will start with 32GB of storage, replacing the infamous 16GB base tier offered since the iPhone 3GS. Accordingly, the new storage options for the iPhone 7 could be 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB, but it remains unclear if the 256GB tier will be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch model as some sources have indicated. The current storage options for both the iPhone 6/6 Plus and iPhone 6s/6s Plus series include 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, with the 16GB base model in particular drawing the ire of some customers who have long hoped for a larger capacity at the entry-level price point. This year, it appears that Apple has finally acknowledged the desire for larger storage tiers at both the top and bottom of its iPhone

3GB of RAM Again Rumored for Next iPhone, Likely 5.5-Inch Model Only

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has twice claimed the next 5.5-inch iPhone, tentatively referred to as the iPhone 7 Plus, will carry 3GB of RAM for improved performance, and now DigiTimes echoes that in a new report.Increasing built-in memory capacity at next-generation smartphones, including new iPhone devices, will further ramp up demand for memory products in the third quarter, said sources, noting that the mobile DRAM capacity of the next-generation iPhone is expected to increase to 3GB from 2GB previously.The report stops short of specifying whether the 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch, or both iPhone 7 models will have 3GB of RAM, but in general it will mark an increase over the 2GB of RAM in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its supply chain sources have provided accurate information on occasion in the past, and the rumor is backed by the more credible Kuo. The increased RAM should prove valuable given the camera improvements expected with the new iPhones, including a dual-lens system on the 5.5-inch model. Deutsche Bank has also thrown its weight behind the 3GB of RAM rumor, although its prediction is likely based on Kuo rather than independent

Apple Watch 2 Said to Include Thinner 'One Glass Solution' Display

The second-generation Apple Watch will feature "One Glass Solution" (OGS) display technology instead of Glass on Glass (G/G) technology, reports DigiTimes citing information obtained from Apple supplier TPK Holding. One Glass Solution technology eliminates one of the layers of glass from a traditional G/G display that features two pieces of glass, replacing one layer with a thinner material. Making the switch from G/G, used in the current Apple Watch, to OGS could potentially allow Apple to save a small amount of internal space in the Apple Watch 2 and make slight reductions in the weight of the device. According to TPK Holding, production of the OGS panels for the second-generation Apple Watch has seen some unexpected technical issues, resulting in low yield rates. It is not clear if this will affect overall production of the second-generation Apple Watch.The large loss for the second quarter was mainly because touch panel orders for iPhones continued to decrease, and Apple will change touch panel technology from G/G to OGS (one glass solution) in the new Apple Watch to be launched in the second half of 2016, TPK said. The change in touch panel technology involved unexpected technological difficulties and therefore yield rates for OGS touch panels were much lower than expected, TPK explained.The Apple Watch 2 is rumored to feature only minor design changes with primarily under-the-hood spec improvements. Cellular connectivity, a faster processor, and an improved battery are possibilities for the device. As for a launch date, rumors suggest we can expect to see

MacBook Air With USB-C Again Rumored, Launch Timeframe Unclear

Last month, Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported that Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models featuring USB-C ports based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol by the end of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August. It is now seven weeks later, however, and the rumor has yet to materialize. But if a new report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes is to believed, Apple still has plans to release a new MacBook Air with USB-C ports after all. The report does not provide a launch timeframe for the updated notebooks, but the secondary rumor suggests Mac Otakara may have been off on timing only.Currently, Apple has decided to adopt the USB Type-C interface for its MacBook Air, while Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are upgrading one of their notebooks' regular USB port to the Type-C. Lenovo, Acer and Dell are still evaluating the option.DigiTimes previously reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter, which ended in late June. The report said the new MacBooks would "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air." DigiTimes also previously reported that Apple plans to release new ultra-thin MacBooks with metal injection molded hinges in the second half of 2016. The website is not always an accurate source of Apple's upcoming product plans, but it has well-connected supply chain sources that have proven reliable at times in the past. Apple's entire Mac lineup, beyond the 2016 12-inch MacBook, has stagnated. Apple has

Second-Generation Apple Watch Expected This Fall

Apple is planning to unveil the second-generation Apple Watch in September or October, according to a new report from DigiTimes citing supply chain sources in a wider piece on weakening demand for tablets and wearables. Component makers and Apple suppliers are said to be seeing "rather conservative orders" for the new Apple Watch despite its upcoming release date, information that directly conflicts with a June DigiTimes report that pointed towards "higher-than-expected" orders. Given the confusion over the second-generation Apple Watch in the supply chain, DigiTimes' information does not offer a clear picture of the demand Apple expects to see for the device. Rumors suggest the second-generation Apple Watch will see under-the-hood spec improvements and perhaps some minor form factor tweaks, but major changes to the device are not expected to be unveiled this year. Improved battery life, a faster processor, and built-in cellular capabilities are all features we could see in a new Apple Watch. While we can't glean anything about supply from DigiTimes, the September or October timeframe is in line with past rumors. Previous information suggests Apple is perhaps planning to unveil a new Apple Watch alongside new iPhones, and new iPhone models are typically announced in September. According to a recent rumor, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be released on Friday, September 16, and if that's the correct launch date for the iPhone 7, we can likely expect to see the Apple Watch released on the same day. With a September 16 launch date, an unveiling event could

Apple Demanding Price Cuts From Suppliers Ahead of iPhone 7

Apple is demanding price cuts on components for the new iPhone from its overseas suppliers to maintain its high profit margins, despite a global slowdown in smartphone sales, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The report claims several large Taiwan-based component suppliers such as Foxconn, Largan Precision, and Pegatron have already been affected, while strong competition in Greater China forcing the companies to "compete aggressively" over Apple's orders by cutting prices. Currently, Largan is facing strong competition from Japan-based Kantatsu over camera module orders, while Foxconn and Pegatron are seeing Apple adding new ODM partners such as Wistron for the production of its new iPhone.Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 series in September. The smartphones are expected to retain iPhone 6s-like designs with faster Apple A10 processors, dustproofing and waterproofing, repositioned antenna bands, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi. A dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM may be exclusive to the 5.5-inch model. Other rumored features include a Smart Connector, stereo speakers, and a flush, touch-sensitive home button, but it is not entirely clear if each of those features are destined for the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus/Pro, no longer planned, or reserved for the alleged OLED-based iPhone with glass casing expected in

Samsung to Capitalize on First OLED-Based iPhone in 2017

Samsung Display will remain the global leader among AMOLED display suppliers over the next few years, with shipments estimated to increase to 560 million units by 2019, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes Research. Samsung Electronics, which produces the company's lineup of Android-based Galaxy smartphones, is expected to remain Samsung Display's largest customer over the next few years, with its in-house AMOLED panel demand projected to grow from 239 million units in 2016 to 290 million units in 2019. Apple is rumored to release its first OLED-based iPhone in 2017, moving away from traditional LCD technology it has used since 2007 for at least one iPhone model. The report estimates that Samsung Display will supply Apple with 40 million AMOLED panels in 2017, 80 million units in 2018, and 120 million units in 2019. LG Display, AU Optronics, Japan Display, and Foxconn-owned Sharp may also share production of OLED panels for future iPhones. Earlier this year, DisplayMate found that Samsung's Galaxy S7 makes a compelling case for Apple to switch to OLED display technology. Possible benefits include increased brightness, improved color accuracy, improved screen visibility in bright environments, and more efficient power consumption. A number of China-based smartphone vendors, including Vivo, Oppo, GiONEE, Huawei, and Lenovo, have also adopted or decided to adopt AMOLED panels in the future, with Samsung Display's combined shipments to them projected to increase from 99 million units in 2016 to 150 million units in

Apple Watch May Switch to Micro-LED Display in Mid 2017 or Later

Apple may switch to micro-LED displays for the Apple Watch in the second half of 2017 at the earliest, moving away from the current OLED technology used, according to supply chain sources for Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The timeline suggests that the much-rumored Apple Watch 2 lineup expected to debut in the second half of 2016 will continue to have OLED displays, with the move towards micro-LED panels liking occurring in tandem with the tentatively named Apple Watch 3. Micro-LED displays can be thinner and lighter and allow for 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. Earlier this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the Apple Watch 2 will mainly feature internal improvements, with more significant form factor design changes not occurring until 2017. By then, the switch to micro-LED panels and other technological advances could allow for a thinner Apple Watch. Apple acquired micro-LED display maker LuxVue Technology in 2014, and one of the company's investors at the time said it had "a technical breakthrough in displays." LuxVue holds multiple micro-LED-related patents and, in 2013, it raised $25.2 million in funding to pursue the technology. Apple also opened a facility in northern Taiwan last year, where it is believed to be focusing on micro-LED technology. The current Apple Watch is the only Apple product with an OLED display due to

Apple Diversifies Suppliers for iPhone 7 Due in September

Apple will rely on multiple manufacturing partners to assemble the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, including Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes. The new 4.7-inch model will reportedly be assembled by Foxconn and Pegatron, while the 5.5-inch model will be made by Foxconn and Wistron. Apple typically diversifies suppliers to aim for a smooth iPhone launch. "Wistron was a manufacturer of Apple's iPhone 5c and has already prepared sufficient capacity for the next-generation iPhone orders," the report adds. Wistron has also been tasked with iPhone SE orders. The report unsurprisingly confirms that Apple's next-generation flagship iPhones will launch at the end of the third quarter, setting the stage for a traditional September announcement and release, likely by no later than the third week of the month. DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its sources within the upstream supply chain have proven reliable at times. Rumors suggest the iPhone 7 could retain a 6s-like design with a faster TSMC-built A10 chip, slightly larger battery, waterproofing and dustproofing, repositioned antenna bands, no headphone jack, faster Intel LTE chips, and more. Meanwhile, the larger iPhone 7 Plus (or Pro) could have a Smart Connector, dual-lens camera, and 3GB of RAM. Other rumors surrounding the next-generation smartphones have included a flush camera, touch-sensitive home button, stereo speakers, and wireless charging, but it remains possible that Apple dropped some of those features or chose to

Apple Increases iPhone SE Orders Amid Growing Sales Pressures

In line with Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent comments about "very strong" iPhone SE demand exceeding supply, the company has reportedly increased orders for the low-priced 4-inch smartphone in the second quarter of 2016. DigiTimes claims that the second-quarter outlook for iPhone SE-related chip orders has been revised to more than 5 million units, up from 3.5-4 million, and the upward trend is expected to continue through the third quarter. In a related report, the Taiwanese website notes that Apple has conversely lowered orders for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus due to declining sales of the flagship handsets. Last week, Apple announced its first-ever year-over-year decline in iPhone sales, which dropped to 51.2 million from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and provided third quarter guidance that suggests the decline will continue. While the lower-priced iPhone SE could help Apple combat its overall decline in smartphone sales, Apple analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon notes that the device has a lower average selling price (ASP) and smaller profit margins. Those pressures, alongside other warning signs, leads him to believe that Apple "has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands" right now.When looking at all of these iPhone warning signs, it is becoming clear that Apple has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands. The combination of a slowing iPhone upgrade rate and declining number of growth catalysts for expanding the iPhone's addressable market will make it very difficult for management to report unit sales growth going forward given