May 28 Updated below. This post was originally published on May 25th
Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup looks set to see a significant price increase. And now we have a better idea why…
Famous Korean technology site ET News reported that, for the first time in iPhone history, Apple will install a Korean front camera into its smartphone. The camera will offer huge upgrades in image quality (broken down here), but comes with a staggering cost increase.
Update May 27: More details on Apple’s iPhone 14 production plans have now leaked, and they come from two of the most trusted sources in the industry. The first Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, was disclosure that production of the new iPhone 14 Max “is slowing down”. Kuo attributed the closure in Shanghai to a factor but said he hopes that “suppliers can work overtime to catch up.”
Adding more context is Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consulting (DSCC) and one of the the most accurate people in the industry. Reply to Kuo, Young claim that “iPhone 14 Max case shipments are always behind” adding “Not sure why”. The interesting way. he speculated “Maybe they have a modest volume target for this one.” This is possible, but I doubt that the iPhone 14 Max will be the most popular model in the iPhone 14 range.
Either way, Apple is likely to release the first fork since the iPhone 12 launched in 2020 – it’s 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 May 28: iPhone 14 components continue to leak at a rapid rate. Mysterious industry insider TomApplePro, the first to reveal the iPhone 14 Pro’s i-cutout screen in September Followed by detailed sizenow leaked the first details about their new A16 chip.
The tipper said his source understands that the A16 Bionic will continue to use the same 5nm (nanometer) fabrication process as both the A15 (2021) and A14 (2020) and will again be manufactured by TSMC. ShrimpApplePro also denied rumors of a big performance boost, saying “The upgrades are a slightly better CPU, LPDDR5 RAM, and better GPU.”
The big push here is the move to LPDDR5 memory, which is 1.5x faster and 30% more power efficient than the LPDDR4X memory used in the iPhone 13. That said, the memory alone won’t delivers the performance leaps we’ve seen. several generations of new iPhone chips.
Interestingly, given Apple’s recent admission that supplies are limited, it seems like Apple’s M2 chip is where the next innovation leap happens. ShrimpApplePro report it’s a chip going to 3nm – something that was previously introduced for the A16 – and that’s understandable given that it’s used on the iPad, Mac and MacBook lines. 3nm is expected to reduce power consumption 25-30% compared to 5nm chips, allowing for higher clock speeds and increased performance.
Meanwhile, the mystery of the iPhone 14 chipset continues. We may have the first details on the A16 chip, but many leaks have been requested the chip will only come to iPhone 16 Pro models – potentially ‘A16 Pro’ – with the iPhone 13’s A15 chip used in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max and renamed ‘A16’. How Apple fans will 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 following “quality problems from Chinese manufacturers” during testing. As a result, Apple will install an LG Innotek camera module this year, which was originally intended for the iPhone 15.
The good news is that ET News reports that this module brings enhanced functionality to the iPhone’s front camera for the first time, including autofocus. This is what respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed for the first time back in April with improved aperture-coupled autofocus for better depth of field in Portrait mode and video calls.
The downside is the cost. According to the source of ET News, “the unit price of the iPhone 14 front camera has increased by nearly 3 times compared to previous models”. This is the biggest component price hike I can remember. Historically, Apple’s move to dual then triple rear cameras and the addition of a high refresh rate display have both added to the cost, but not by a 3x multiple.
All of this fuels rumors that Apple will raise iPhone prices by $100 for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the new iPhone 14 Max will be at least $200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini it replaces.
On the other hand, after numerous reports that the standard iPhone 14 will be a bit more (disputedly) superior to the iPhone 13, the leap in front-facing camera quality could be one of the phone’s biggest selling points. Especially with the tremendous growth of video calling in recent years.
The revelation that Apple unexpectedly plans to move the iPhone lineup to USB-C in 2023 and redesign the base models means I still think it’s going to be a bad year to upgrade. But for the determined upgraders, things got a little better.
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