China’s BOE Considered ‘Strong Contender’ for OLED Display Orders for Future iPhones, Joining Samsung

An escalating trade war between Japan and South Korea could make Chinese manufacturer BOE Technology a "strong contender" for OLED display orders from Apple, according to industry sources who spoke with DigiTimes.


Samsung has been the undisputed leader in OLED display manufacturing, and as a result it has reportedly been the exclusive supplier of OLED displays for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, but the industry sources cited believe the Japanese-Korean trade row could upend its monopoly position.

Apple aims to diversify its supply chain as much as possible, often securing at least two suppliers for any given component, but Samsung's lead in OLED display manufacturing has left it with few alternatives so far.

LG, for example, reportedly temporarily halted one of its OLED display production lines due to manufacturing challenges earlier this year. LG already supplies OLED displays for the Apple Watch and is widely expected to become a secondary supplier of OLED displays for iPhones when capable to.

With at least one of BOE or LG joining the mix, Apple is poised to reduce its supply chain risk and improve its negotiating position.


This article, "China's BOE Considered 'Strong Contender' for OLED Display Orders for Future iPhones, Joining Samsung" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Readies 3D Sensing Rear Camera Component Supplies for 2020 iPhones

Apple has asked one of its manufacturing partners to ready components for use in rear Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera lenses said to be coming to next year's iPhone lineup, according to DigiTimes.

Apple has reportedly asked its supply chain partner to supply VCSEL components for use in rear ToF camera lens in its mobile devices to be released in 2020, according to supply chain sources.
Multiple sources have claimed that Apple's 2020 iPhones will include a laser-powered time-of-flight 3D rear camera that will result in significant improvements to AR experiences, including Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

VCSELs, or vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, are a key component of Apple's TrueDepth camera in the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, and power several flagship features like Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. However, a ToF camera system is a major step up from TrueDepth due to its more advanced use of laser.

TrueDepth relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion to generate an accurate 3D image for authentication. By contrast, ToF calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a 3D image of the environment. This allows for more accurate depth perception and better placement of virtual objects, and should also result in photos better able to capture depth.

Bloomberg says that the rear camera in Apple's 2020 iPhones will be able to scan areas up to 15 feet from the device. Apple's front-facing TrueDepth camera uses 3D technology but its structured-light system only works at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters.

Apple is said to have gained a two-year lead over its rivals in the smartphone industry in the area of 3D sensing technology, having secured the necessary hardware way in advance of competitors. Sony could be the ToF supplier that DigiTimes is referring to in the paywalled article, as Apple has reportedly been in talks with Sony over ToF sensor tests. Although in December 2017, Apple said it planned to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which currently supplies the components for VCSELs.

At the time, Apple said its Finisar investment would enable the supplier to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs. Apple initially sourced VCSELs for 2017's iPhone X chiefly from California-based Lumentum, but it was bottlenecks in production there that helped spur the $390 million deal with Finisar.

Lumentum subsequently ramped up additional manufacturing capacity for VCSELs and edge-emitting lasers in the first half of fiscal 2019. Another producer, Austria-based Ams, also makes VCSEL chips, and in March 2018 said it had won a large deal with an unnamed smartphone maker, so there are a few potential suppliers that Apple could be leaning on.

There were originally some rumors suggesting Apple would introduce a rear 3D camera system in its 2019 iPhones, but Kuo said that wouldn't happen because Apple needs 5G connectivity, augmented reality glasses, and a more powerful Apple Maps database to truly take advantage of the AR capabilities afforded by a ToF camera.

Bloomberg has since confirmed that Apple was aiming to put the 3D rear camera system in this year's iPhones, but ultimately had to delay its plans. Whether that decision is related to rumors that Apple has had to temporarily stop developing AR/VR headsets remains unclear.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

This article, "Apple Readies 3D Sensing Rear Camera Component Supplies for 2020 iPhones" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

DigiTimes Says Apple AR Glasses Have Reportedly Been ‘Terminated’

Apple has reportedly "terminated" development of its widely rumored augmented reality glasses project, according to DigiTimes.


Multiple sources have claimed that Apple planned to release augmented reality glasses as early as 2020, including well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, and CNET, so if the DigiTimes report is accurate, this would reflect a cancellation of a major hardware project on Apple's roadmap.


DigiTimes has a mixed track record in relation to reporting on Apple's future plans, but it appears to be citing another report in this case. However, the DigiTimes story is currently paywalled behind its "Before Going to Press" section, so we'll have to wait for specific details to be made public.

Kuo said Apple's glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone. He believed mass production could begin at some point between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020.

In November 2017, Gurman reported that Apple's headset would run a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system." At the time, he said Apple had not finalized how users would control the headset, but possibilities included touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures.

Gurman and other sources previously reported that Apple was working several different wearable augmented reality prototypes under the umbrella code name of "T288," so it is still possible that a product of some kind could be released.

Apple has been exploring virtual reality and augmented reality technologies for more than 10 years based on patent filings. The company is also rumored to have a secret research unit comprising hundreds of employees working on AR and VR, exploring ways the emerging technologies could be used in future Apple products.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked up the prospect of augmented reality several times, saying he views AR as "profound" because the technology "amplifies human performance instead of isolating humans."

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

This article, "DigiTimes Says Apple AR Glasses Have Reportedly Been 'Terminated'" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

3D Touch Again Rumored to Be Removed From All 2019 iPhones

A few months ago, in a research note shared with MacRumors, a team of Barclays analysts "confirmed" that 3D Touch "will be eliminated" in all 2019 iPhones, as they predicted back in August 2018. The analysts gathered this information from Apple suppliers following a recent trip to Asia.


The Wall Street Journal floated the same rumor back in January, and now, yet another source suggests 3D Touch is on the chopping block. Namely, Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes today claimed that Apple "may" remove 3D Touch hardware from all 2019 iPhones, citing unnamed industry sources.

Apple already introduced software changes in iOS 13 and iPadOS that hint at 3D Touch not being supported on new devices.

Specifically, "Quick Actions" menus that float above app icons on the home screen and "Peek" previews of emails, links, messages, and more are now supported on any iPhone or iPad that can run iOS 13 or iPadOS. These features were previously exclusive to iPhones with pressure-sensitive 3D Touch hardware.

Both features rely on a long press, aka pressing and holding, meaning this is effectively an expansion of the Haptic Touch functionality that debuted on the iPhone XR last year, although Apple's developer documentation refers to it as the "system-defined touch and hold gesture" on other devices.

The ability to invoke Quick Actions menus and Peek previews with a long press in iOS 13 likely foreshadows the removal of 3D Touch from 2019 iPhones, as most of 3D Touch's features will be possible without needing pressure-sensitive 3D Touch hardware in 2019 iPhones, reducing production costs for Apple.

3D Touch is still functional in iOS 13 on existing iPhones that support the feature, and will likely continue to be in future software updates. This includes the iPhone 6s through iPhone XS Max, excluding the iPhone SE.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

This article, "3D Touch Again Rumored to Be Removed From All 2019 iPhones" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Supplier Ramps Up Production of AirPods 2 Parts to Meet High Demand

The manufacturer of rigid-flex printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in Apple's AirPods 2 is ramping up production of the technology into early 2020 at least, despite rumors that Apple will launch two new AirPods models as early as this year with a different internal design.


DigiTimes reports that Apple supplier Unitech Printed Circuit Board still sees the rigid-flex PCB combination as the mainstream technology for truly wireless headphones, and will expand its production capacity in Taiwan by 25-30 percent in 2019 to meet increased demand from clients.

In contrast, Apple's two new AirPods models are expected to make use of SiP (system in package) technology, which will improve assembly yield rates, save internal space and reduce cost.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts that the two new models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Kuo has said one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update to AirPods 2 with the same pricing.

In March 2019, Apple launched its second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Bloomberg reported that Apple's third-generation AirPods will feature a new design and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

The AirPods aren't likely to be entirely water resistant, however, and won't be able to be submerged in liquid. These third-generation AirPods are also rumored to include noise cancellation features and increase the distance that AirPods can be listened to away from an iPhone or iPad.

Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Google are all actively developing their own truly wireless headphones, many of which are expected to use the older rigid-flex PCB technology. Apple now dominates nearly 70 percent of the truly wireless headphone market, according to DigiTimes, suggesting Apple's adoption of the new SiP tech could give the company an even greater advantage over rivals as the market continues to grow.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

This article, "Apple Supplier Ramps Up Production of AirPods 2 Parts to Meet High Demand" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Report Claims AirPods 3 With Noise Canceling Feature to Launch Later This Year

DigiTimes reports this morning that Apple is set to launch third-generation AirPods with a noise cancelation function by the end of the year, contradicting an earlier rumor that said Apple's AirPods 3 have been pushed back to 2020.

Apple is reportedly set to release its third-generation AirPods for sales by the end of 2019, with the new wireless earphones to incorporate a noise cancellation function. And Taiwan's Inventec reportedly will be the major assembler of AirPods 3, while China's Luxshare Precision will also grab part of the orders for the new device, according to industry sources.
Today's report claims that Apple will fend off competition from rival brands of true wireless earbuds by including a noise-canceling function in its third-generation AirPods, although doing so could throw up new design and assembly challenges.
The sources said that noise cancellation is not a new technology, but a technology hard to harness. On the one hand, semiconductor devices can hardly work without suffering electromagnetic disturbance, and on the other hand how the structural design of the noise forward feedback microphone can be done well to achieve harmonious operation with other devices is a great challenge for designers and assemblers.

In addition, earphones with noise-cancellation function will consume more power than those without, and it remains to be seen how Apple will do to reduce power consumption, the sources indicated.
Taiwan's Inventec is said to be uniquely positioned to meet the production challenges of AirPods 3, thanks to its extensive assembly experiences, giving the manufacturer a better chance of winning assembly orders from Apple than China's Luxshare Precision. As it stands, the assemblers command an equal share of orders for AirPods 2.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has also claimed that Apple's third-generation AirPods could include noise cancellation features, as well as a new design, and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

However, Gurman believes that AirPods 3 now won't be ready until next year, and that aligns better with the current consensus. Apple only launched AirPods 2 with optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri functionality in March 2019, making the introduction of another model this year seem unlikely, but not impossible.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

This article, "Report Claims AirPods 3 With Noise Canceling Feature to Launch Later This Year" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple to Adopt Mini LED Display Tech in Future Macs and iPads, Starting With 31.6-inch iMac to Launch Later This Year

Apple will switch to mini LED backlighting for a raft of hardware coming over the next three years including a 31.6-inch iMac to be launched in the second or third quarter of 2019, reports DigiTimes this morning.

Apple will adopt mini LED backlighting for a 31.6-inch iMac to be launched in the second or third quarter of 2019, a 10- to 12-inch iPad to be unveiled in fourth-quarter 2020 or first-quarter 2021, and a 15- to 17-inch MacBook to be introduced in first-half 2021, according to a analyst Kuo Ming-chi at TF International Securities.
Today's DigiTimes report cites comments made by well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo to local media, a machine translation of which we covered on Monday. That report, which carried a warning of possible mistranslation, referred to a 31.6-inch 6K standalone display, but DigiTimes refers multiple times to an iMac with the same dimensions.

The report goes on to note that Apple is settling on mini LED technology for its wide color gamut, high contrast ratio, high dynamic range and local dimming.
The backlight unit (BLU) to be used in the 31.6-inch iMac will be made of about 500 LED chips of 600 microns in size, with Japan-based Nichia to supply the LEDs, Kuo said.

Strictly speaking, this is a quasi-mini LED BLU because the chip size is much larger than those of standard mini LEDs, according to industry sources. However, the use of such a BLU will give opportunities for the supply chain to improve mini LED production in cost and yield rate, the sources noted.
More than 10,000 mini LEDs will be needed for the "10- to 12-inch iPad," according to the report, and these LEDs will be made by Epistar. Meanwhile, LCD panels will come from LG Display and BLUs by Radiant Opto-Electronics, and all three companies will form parts of the supply chain for the mini LED-backlit MacBook.

Related Roundups: iMac, MacBook Pro

This article, "Apple to Adopt Mini LED Display Tech in Future Macs and iPads, Starting With 31.6-inch iMac to Launch Later This Year" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Will Reportedly Launch Three OLED iPhones in 2020 Including Smaller 5.42-inch Model With Thinner Display

Apple plans to launch a trio of OLED iPhones next year that includes smaller and larger-sized models than the current crop of Apple's flagship smartphones, according to sources from Taiwan's supply chain.


DigiTimes reports this morning that Apple will release three OLED iPhones in 2020 available in 5.42-, 6.06- and 6.67-inch sizes.

Meanwhile DigiTimes' sources indicate that, as expected, this year's three models will follow the screen technologies and sizes of 2018 iPhones; namely, two OLED models with 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch screens, and a 6.1-inch LCD model.

In a noteworthy tidbit coming out Taiwan's handset component supply chain, the smallest iPhone model coming in 2020 will reportedly include Samsung or LG touchscreen tech that will allow Apple to make the phone of the display thinner than on previous handsets.
Additionally, the 5.42-inch model to be released in 2020 may come with either Samsung Display's Y-Octa or LG Display's TOE touch technology, indicated the sources, noting that both touch solutions promises to trim down the display cost.

Y-Octa is an advanced flexible AMOLED display technology that removes the film substrate and allows the touch circuit to be directly patterned on the film's encapsulation layer, making the display thinner, indicated the sources.
According to DigiTimes' sources, Samsung will maintain its dominance as the main OLED panel supplier for Apple next year, while it remains to be seen whether LG or BOE Technology can gain OLED panel orders from the company.

The same supply chain sources estimate that Apple will ship between 80 and 82 million iPhones in the first half of this year and around 180-190 million units for all of 2019.

Previous rumors suggest 2020 iPhones will feature triple-lens rear camera arrangements, improved photo capturing tools, and more powerful processors. Bloomberg has suggested it could be a prelude to an AR headset, and past rumors have indicated Apple could launch that device as early as 2020.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

This article, "Apple Will Reportedly Launch Three OLED iPhones in 2020 Including Smaller 5.42-inch Model With Thinner Display" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

AirPower to Launch in ‘Late March’ According to DigiTimes Sources

Apple plans to release its long-awaited wireless charging mat AirPower in "late March" according to Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. We're in late March now, so if the report is accurate, then a release should be imminent.


The report cites unnamed "industry sources" within Apple's supply chain:
Lite-On Semiconductor, a maker of discrete and analog IC components, is expected to see its second-quarter revenues register a double-digit sequential growth as it will soon kick off volume shipments of GPP (glass passivated package) bridge rectifiers needed for Apple's wireless charger AirPower, according to industry sources.

The sources said that Apple's AirPower wireless charger for iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods is set to be officially launched in late March, which will significantly drive up Lite-On's revenues for the second quarter of 2019.
There are 10 days remaining in March including today.

DigiTimes has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting the timing of Apple product releases. While the publication has sources within Apple's suppliers in Asia, particularly in Taiwan, supply chain sources are typically more privy to what is coming rather than when. In short, we'll see.

There is certainly increasing evidence pointing towards an upcoming release.

Yesterday, after receiving a tip from reader Michael Bateman, MacRumors uncovered what appears to be a new image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS and the new AirPods wireless charging case on it.


MacRumors also uncovered evidence to suggest that Apple has secured the rights to the AirPower trademark in the United States.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier this year, and reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said the AirPower will be released within the first half of 2019.

AirPower is designed to charge multiple Apple devices at once, including the iPhone 8 and newer, Apple Watch Series 3 and newer, and AirPods when they are placed in the new optional wireless charging case introduced on Wednesday.

Apple introduced new iPads on Monday, new iMacs on Tuesday, and new AirPods on Wednesday of this week.


This article, "AirPower to Launch in 'Late March' According to DigiTimes Sources" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Suppliers ‘Gearing Up for Mass Production’ of Updated iPad and AirPods

Companies in Apple's supply chain are reportedly "gearing up for mass production" of updated iPad and AirPods models, according to Taiwanese site DigiTimes.

Flexible PCB firms Flexium Interconnect and Zhen Ding Technology are gearing up for mass production for Apple's next-generation iPad devices, while Compeq Manufacturing and Unitech PCB supply rigid-flex boards for the forthcoming AirPods, according to industry sources.
The report says that both updates are expected to come at Apple's March 25 event, although reliable sources have indicated the event will focus on Apple's upcoming news and video services with no hardware announcements planned.

Minor hardware updates could come silently alongside the event or via press release around the same time, as DigiTimes's insights via the supply chain are likely limited to production timing rather than event specifics.

Hints of an updated low-cost iPad have been growing, with new iPad models appearing in a regulatory database back in January. Rumors have suggested the entry-level iPad could see its display grow from 9.7 inches to around 10.2 inches thanks to slimmer bezels, but we're not expecting to see Face ID and removal of the home button with this update.

As for AirPods, we've been hearing about an imminent update for many months now, with Apple's plans seemingly delayed as the company continues work on its AirPower charging mat. Updated AirPods would include a wireless charging case to work with the AirPower mat, as well as other upgrades including "Hey Siri" support and possibly new health monitoring features, a "grippy" texture, and maybe even a new black color option.

Related Roundups: iPad, AirPods 2

This article, "Apple Suppliers 'Gearing Up for Mass Production' of Updated iPad and AirPods" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums