2018 iPhones May Feature Faster and More Efficient Wireless Charging With Switch to Copper Coil

A translated China Times report today claims that the wireless charging coil on at least one of Apple's widely rumored trio of 2018 iPhones will be made from copper wire instead of FPC, short for ferrite polymer composite, allowing for both faster and more efficient wireless charging from a technical standpoint.

iPhone X's wireless charging coil visible under X-ray via iFixit/Creative Electron

Essentially, the report claims that Apple will be switching from thinner FPC coils with higher resistance to thicker copper wire coils with lower resistance for the wireless charging receiver built into iPhones.
Since high power and high efficiency are the trend of wireless charging, it is expected that at least one of the three iPhones in 2018 will abandon the FPC to adopt a copper coil solution to achieve the above goal, and because the copper wire coil resistance is small. It can also offset the thermal effects generated by the increase in power.
The reduced resistance would allow Apple to increase the power threshold that iPhones can safely handle via wireless charging, without overheating, which could result in faster and more efficient charging via Qi-certified mats, although this would still depend on the wattage that a particular mat outputs.

For context, FPC is a mixture of iron, at least one other metal, and plastic, whereas copper is a more pure material. Both have electromagnetic induction properties, making them suitable for wireless charging coils.

The latest iPhones support wireless charging at up to 7.5W, which actually isn't much faster than wired charging with a 5W power adapter, due to the efficiency limitations of the FPC coil. The switch to copper would yield improvements, assuming that Apple found a way to fit the thicker coil in its next iPhones.

Apple is expected to unveil its 2018 iPhones at Steve Jobs Theater in September, but the company has yet to announce a date for the event.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Ming-Chi Kuo May Lessen Focus on Apple Following Reported Departure From KGI Securities

Ming-Chi Kuo, widely considered to be one of the best analysts covering Apple, may no longer focus his research on the iPhone maker.

Kuo speaking on behalf of DigiTimes

China Times reports that Kuo resigned from Taiwanese research firm KGI Securities on Friday and, while his next move is uncertain, the publication suggests he will focus less on Apple and more on other emerging industries.

Kuo has been one of the most prolific sources of rumors about Apple's unreleased products and services since as early as 2010, when he was a senior analyst at industry publication DigiTimes. He briefly covered Apple for Concord Securities in 2011, before moving to KGI Securities in early 2012.


Kuo's research notes typically relayed information gathered from Apple's supply chain partners in Taiwan and other Asian countries. This information frequently allowed Kuo to accurately predict upcoming products on Apple's roadmap, although the specific details and release dates were occasionally inaccurate.

While he doesn't have a perfect track record, our archive of Kuo's research notes reveals several high-profile rumors that proved to be accurate. In March 2016, over two years prior to the iPhone X, for example, he said Apple was developing a new iPhone with a 5.8-inch OLED display, glass back, and metal frame.

Later in 2016, he shared a laundry list of predictions about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, including the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, a new glossy Jet Black color option, stereo speakers, and improved water resistance.

Kuo also accurately forecasted the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple Watch Series 2 with GPS, iPhone SE, Apple Pencil, 12-inch MacBook, and MacBook Pro models with a Touch Bar and Touch ID, and the MacBook Pro with Retina display. In between, he's shared tidbits about an iPod touch refresh with new colors and white front bezels.

If the news about Kuo is accurate, one has to wonder whether Apple had any involvement with his decision to step down. A few weeks ago, the company distributed an internal memo warning its own employees about the repercussions of leaking insider information, in an effort to maintain its culture of secrecy.

Kuo has yet to publicly comment on the report, and it's possible he may continue to cover Apple to at least some extent in the future.


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China Times Echoes Poor HomePod Sales, Says Apple Has Reduced Orders to 200,000 Per Month

A new supply chain report out of Taiwan echoes a recent Bloomberg News story suggesting that HomePod sales have been lackluster, but as with most channel checks, it can be difficult to draw accurate conclusions.



Namely, the China Times claims that Apple has reduced its HomePod shipment forecast to 200,000 units or less per month in the second quarter, down from around 500,000 units per month in the first quarter, due to lower-than-expected sales. Apple is also said to revise down its shipment forecast for all of 2018.

HomePod sales may very well be lackluster, as a relatively niche product with an expensive $349 price tag, and given a handful of early reviews that criticized Siri’s capabilities, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously warned against trying to interpret single data points from the supply chain.

Cook on Apple’s first quarter earnings call in 2013:

I suggest it’s good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. Even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to interpret that data point as to what it meant to our business. The supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for things. Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary. There is an inordinate long list of things that can make any single data point not a great proxy for what is going on.

For example, the China Times report only mentions Inventec and a few smaller suppliers affected by the cuts, despite reports that Foxconn would begin assembling HomePods alongside Inventec at some point in 2018. It’s possible that Inventec has simply lost a portion of its orders as Apple diversifies its production.

A few months have passed since the HomePod launched, too, so early adopters who were eagerly waiting to purchase the speaker have likely already done so. Just like an iPhone, sales can be expected to be strongest within the first few weeks of availability, followed by a gradual decline over time. Production cuts are to be expected.

Moreover, the HomePod has yet to even launch outside of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, so sales remain limited geographically. Apple said the speaker will launch in France and Germany later this spring.

If sales are in fact poor, one way that Apple could boost interest is by offering a more affordable HomePod, and today’s report echoes rumors about a possible lower-priced version. However, the report predicts that Apple wouldn’t launch a revised or cheaper HomePod until at least the fourth quarter of this year.

We’ll likely never know exactly how well the HomePod is selling, as Apple said it will group the speaker under its “Other Products” category in its quarterly earnings reports, alongside the Apple Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats, iPod, and more. But we’ll be listening to the May 1 earnings call for any potential hints.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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