Mobile chip suppliers in Apple's supply chain are reportedly seeing a drop in orders from rival handset makers as other companies adopt a "wait-and-see" approach in anticipation of what the "iPhone 8" might bring, according to a new report on Monday (via DigiTimes).
While chip makers saw Apple's orders pick up last month, demand from non-Apple customers has been slow, according to sources at backend houses, which don't expect orders to rise substantially until the fourth quarter.
Fabless firms including MediaTek and HiSilicon continue to slow down their pace of orders, said the sources, which warned of disappointing handset-chip shipments from the non-Apple camp in the third quarter.
Chip orders from rivals were reportedly expected to have picked up in the beginning of April and grown through August, but orders are said to have been delayed as companies await Apple's redesigned "iPhone 8", which many rivals believe will come with revolutionary features.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has seen non-Apple customers express more interest in the firm's 12-nanometer node manufacturing process, which is said to be a smaller, enhanced version of its 16nm process, rather than its 10nm process, which Apple is relying on for the A11 chips in its iterative "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus" updates, along with the premium-tier OLED iPhone.
10nm is supposed to yield chips that are more power efficient and offer faster end user experiences. Apple's iPhone sales are expected to sustain demand for TSMC's 10nm mobile chips through the first quarter of 2018, the sources added. Meanwhile, the 12nm node process should serve as a more modest enhancement to fill the competition gap before more suppliers are capable of building faster 10nm chips.
Apple has a major iPhone redesign in the works this year, with a glass body and edge-to-edge OLED display, wireless charging, enhanced cameras with 3D sensing technology, and new authentication features including facial recognition. The OLED iPhone is expected to launch in the fall alongside upgraded (but standard) 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.