DigiTimes: Next-Generation AirPods to Enter Production as Early as October

Apple's suppliers are gearing up to assemble next-generation AirPods as early as October, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.


DigiTimes shared a short preview of its story today:
Assembling for new-gen AirPods to kick off as early as October
Apple's suppliers are gearing up for assembling for the next-generation AirPods as early as October, according to industry sources.
The full story should be available within the next few days. We'll update this post if there are any additional details to share.

In April, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models would likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor serving as primary suppliers.

Kuo believes 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 with the same pricing.

If new AirPods do launch later this year, they will likely be the more iterative pair that Kuo referred to, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman expects the higher-priced AirPods with water resistance and noise cancelation to launch as early as 2020. It's unclear what features would be part of the iterative update.

In March, Apple released 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.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
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2019 iPhones Said to Feature Larger Batteries Up to 3,500 mAh, Next iPhone XS May Have Dual Nano-SIM in China

Apple is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones in just under three weeks, and ahead of time, Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes has shared a laundry list of its expectations for the devices.


The paywalled report corroborates several existing rumors, including the 2019 iPhones having the same display sizes as the 2018 lineup, including 5.8-inch OLED, 6.5-inch OLED, and 6.1-inch LCD models. All three iPhones are said to feature Face ID, with no changes to the notch area and no 3D Touch.

DigiTimes also expects the 2019 iPhones to feature A13 processors manufactured based on TSMC's 7nm process, two-way charging of wearables like the Apple Watch and AirPods on the back of the iPhones, and new colors, in line with a previous rumor of new green and lavender finishes for the next iPhone XR.

The report adds that battery capacities will increase to around 3,200 mAh, 3,500 mAh, and 3,000 mAh for the next iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR respectively, which would be around 20 percent, 10 percent, and two percent larger than the batteries in the equivalent 2018 iPhones.

Korean website The Elec previously claimed the next iPhone XR will sport a 3,110 mAh battery, which could still be accurate given that DigiTimes appears to be roughly estimating its reported capacities.

And, of course, more cameras. The next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models are widely expected to sport triple-lens rear cameras, while the next iPhone XR is rumored to gain a dual-lens rear camera. On the higher-end models, the third lens is rumored to enable a "0.5x" ultra-wide-angle viewfinder.

Much of this information has already been outlined by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, including two-way charging and battery capacities increasing by roughly the percentages outlined above, but this information from the DigiTimes Research division in Taiwan adds further credence as the new iPhones near launch.

The report does outline one new possibility, claiming that Apple may release a 5.8-inch iPhone with dual nano-SIM support this year, which would likely be limited to the Chinese market. Last year, Apple released the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR with dual nano-SIM slots in China, but the iPhone XS lacked this.

All three iPhones feature dual SIM support in other countries by way of a single nano-SIM paired with an eSIM inside the device. This functionality enables iPhone users to have two phone numbers available at once, which is useful for travel or having both personal and work lines on a single iPhone.

Tuesday, September 10 is the widely predicted date of Apple's event, with invites to the media likely to be issued towards the end of August. MacRumors will have live coverage of the keynote as usual.

For more rumors, read our 2019 iPhones roundup.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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DigiTimes: Apple to Launch MacBooks with Cellular 5G Connectivity in Second Half of 2020

Apple is working on a range of MacBooks with 5G cellular connectivity for launch as early as next year, claims a new report today by DigiTimes.


According to the hit-and-miss Taiwanese publication, Lenovo, HP, and Dell will kick off the 5G laptop market later this year, and Apple is set to follow with its own high-speed cellular notebook in the second half of 2020.
The world's top-3 notebook vendors Lenovo, HP and Dell are set to introduce their first 5G models in the second half of 2019, and Apple is also expected to roll out its 5G MacBook series in the second half of 2020, according to industry sources.
The English version of the DigiTimes story is currently paywalled, so the following details are based on a machine-translation of the same report on DigiTimes Taiwan.

DigiTimes' notebook supply chain connections claim that Apple has finalized its integrated 5G MacBook design and though it did so later than other vendors, its 5G transceiver offers higher efficiency and superior high-speed transmission rates than rival designs.

According to DigiTimes' sources, Apple is achieving better 5G performance in its notebook designs through the use of a ceramic antenna board, which costs six times that of a regular metal antenna board but offers twice the transmission and reception efficiency.

Another reason a 5G-enabled MacBook is expected to be high is reportedly down to the case: A metal chassis shields the 5G signal, meaning the notebook would require 13 to 15 antennas, where a 5G smartphone typically uses 11.

This is the first time we've heard anything about Apple planning to launch a MacBook with 5G, and DigiTimes has a mixed track record in relation to reporting on Apple's future plans, so it's best to treat its rumors with some skepticism until the info is corroborated by additional sources.

That said, Apple has explored the possibility of developing MacBooks with cellular connectivity in the past. Indeed, the company reportedly considered launching a MacBook Air with 3G connectivity, but former CEO Steve Jobs said in 2008 that Apple decided against it, since it would take up too much room in the case and would lock customers to a specific carrier. Plus owners who wanted to could always use a USB modem and choose their own carrier.

Apple patent describing MacBook with integrated LTE

Despite retreating from the idea, Apple received approval for two patents in 2016 that would enable it to add LTE connectivity to its MacBooks. Both describe the use of an installed "cavity" antenna that runs parallel with the notebook's hinge which could be used for long-range communications such as cellular telephone bands. The patents also describe other uses including near-field communications (NFC), light-based wireless connectivity, satellite navigation, and more.

While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm's multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

Indeed, Apple recently announced that it plans to acquire the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business, subject to regulatory approvals. The acquisition will certainly benefit Apple's cellular technologies team, but whether it will factor in on any plans for a series of 5G MacBooks remains to be seen.


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10.2-Inch iPad Said to Launch in the Fall as Successor to 9.7-Inch iPad

Apple is widely expected to release a new 10.2-inch iPad later this year as a replacement for its $329 entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, and hit-or-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes has now added its weight to this rumor, claiming that the tablet will be released in the "late third quarter."


If accurate, that timeframe means the 10.2-inch iPad would be released by the end of September, suggesting that the device might be unveiled alongside new iPhones at Apple's usual September event.

iPad releases in the fall have typically occurred in October, including in 2012 through 2014 and again in 2018. September would not be totally out of the ordinary, however, as Apple unveiled the original iPad Pro and the iPad mini 4 at its September 2015 event without hosting an October event that year.

It's worth noting that DigiTimes has a rather unreliable track record as it relates to the timing of new Apple products. This week alone, for example, the website published one report saying the 16-inch MacBook Pro will be released in September and another saying the notebook will launch in October.

Multiple sources have outlined expectations for a new 10.2-inch iPad, including reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the previously-reliable mystery Twitter account CoinX. Apple has also filed several unreleased iPad models running iPadOS 13 in a Eurasian regulatory database, as legally required.

The 10.2-inch iPad would have a modestly larger display than the 9.7-inch iPad, possibly in tandem with narrower bezels.

A reasonable assumption would be that Apple will unveil new iPhones and Apple Watches in September and save the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro, 10.2-inch iPad, and iPad Pro refresh for October, but Apple could always break with tradition.

Related Roundup: iPad
Buyer's Guide: iPad (Caution)

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DigiTimes: 16-Inch MacBook Pro Will Feature Narrow Bezels and Launch in September

16-inch MacBook Pro rumors continue to surface, with hit-or-miss industry publication DigiTimes today reporting that the notebook will feature an "ultra-narrow bezel" design and launch in September.


The report suggests that the narrow bezels will allow for the 16-inch MacBook Pro to be roughly the same overall size as the current 15-inch model. Taiwanese contract manufacturer Quanta Computer is expected to assemble the notebook, according to the unnamed supply chain sources cited.

Multiple reports have claimed the 16-inch display will be supplied by LG and have a resolution of 3,072×1,920 pixels.

Last week, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the 16-inch MacBook Pro will also feature a scissor mechanism keyboard, as Apple finally begins to transition away from its troubled butterfly mechanism keyboard design.

16-inch MacBook Pro rumors are beginning to consolidate, but there are still a few conflicting details. This is the second report to mention a September release date, for example, but Apple typically unveils new Macs in October. Either way, it looks like the notebook is coming in the fall.

Kuo believes the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro will live on with refreshes in 2020.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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)

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