Apple supplier Foxconn Electronics is reportedly gearing up to launch its own line of smartphone devices in Japan, using its recent acquisition of Sharp to help manufacture and distribute the handsets (via DigiTimes). Over the past few years, Foxconn has been a major supplier for Apple device manufacturing, including for the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
The company is said to be working on entry-level and mid-range options for the lineup, with an expected launch date in the first quarter of 2017, according to sources within the Japanese manufacturing industry. The sources mentioned that it "remains unclear as to which brand Foxconn will use" to market the devices, although it is "highly possible" for the handsets to be sold under a Sharp branding.
However, it remains unclear as to which brand Foxconn will use to market the smartphones it produced in-house in the Japan market, said the sources, adding that it is highly possible those smartphones will be sold under the Sharp brand.
Foxconn's move to introduce cheaper models of smartphones could offset Sharp's Aquos line of devices, which corner the high-end market in Japan but leave the company open to introduce entry-level and mid-range devices for consumers. According to the sources knowledgable of the launch, the addition of Foxconn's smartphones "will enrich Sharp's product portfolios," if the company is indeed the brand attached to the new handsets.
Foxconn has produced its own smartphones under different branding before, but today's report suggests the company is attempting to launch its new devices with a heavier marketing push within Japan. No other descriptive factors of the smartphone's components or features were mentioned in the report.
Most recently, Apple was rumored to be in talks with Sharp to provide OLED displays for next-generation iPhones, with the ultimate outcome of the deal depending on Sharp's capacity to output a large amount of displays. The rumor of Apple's negotiations with Sharp followed a report last week that said the electronics manufacturer is set to spend $570 million on OLED panel production, although its output goal of mid-2018 means it'll miss next year's mega-cycle iPhone 8 launch.