Barclays: iPhone 12 Models Will Have ‘Refreshed’ Face ID System, Lightning Connector Could Be Dropped in 2021

iPhone 12 models will feature a "refreshed" front-facing TrueDepth system that benefits Apple supplier Lite-On Semiconductor, according to Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis, Thomas O'Malley, and Baylie Harri. This suggests that Face ID could be improved on iPhone 12 models, but no specific details were provided.


In a research note provided to MacRumors, the analysts added that the rear-facing camera system on iPhone 12 Pro models will feature 3D sensing based on a time-of-flight solution, as widely rumored. They also expect iPhone 12 Pro models to be equipped with 6GB of RAM, up from 4GB in iPhone 11 Pro models.

The biggest change of all could come next year, as the analysts said they see potential for Apple to remove the Lightning connector from at least one iPhone model in 2021, echoing a prediction shared by fellow analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last month. This could result in wired EarPods being removed from the box, they said.

Kuo has said that Apple plans to release five new iPhone models in 2020, including a lower-end "iPhone SE 2" or "iPhone 9" by the end of March and four higher-end, 5G-enabled models in the fall.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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iPhone 12 Lineup Expected to Feature Up to 6GB of RAM

Apple plans to release one 5.4-inch, one 6.7-inch, and two 6.1-inch iPhone models in 2020, according to UBS analysts Timothy Arcuri and Munjal Shah. While the analysts expect all four iPhones to be equipped with OLED displays, they believe other features like camera specifications and RAM will vary by model.


In a research note shared with MacRumors, the analysts provided an overview of the four iPhones they expect in 2020:
  • 6.7-inch iPhone: triple-lens rear camera with 3D sensing and 6GB of RAM

  • 6.1-inch iPhone: triple-lens rear camera with 3D sensing and 6GB of RAM

  • 6.1-inch iPhone: dual-lens rear camera and 4GB of RAM

  • 5.4-inch iPhone: dual-lens rear camera and 4GB of RAM
The camera specifications line up with those shared by reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last month, while 6GB of RAM in the two highest end models lines up with a prediction shared by Barclays analysts in November.

5G is expected to be a key feature of high-end iPhones in 2020. UBS conducted a survey of over 9,000 consumers across the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom and found that 22 percent of respondents view 5G support as something that is worth upgrading smartphones for.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Tag: UBS

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Kuo: All 5G iPhones on Track to Launch in Fall 2020, Including Both Sub-6GHz and mmWave Models

Last month, reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expected four 5G-enabled iPhones to launch in the second half of 2020, including models with both sub-6GHz and mmWave support depending on the region.


Kuo said iPhone models with mmWave would be available in five markets, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom, adding that Apple may disable sub-6GHz functionality in countries that do not offer 5G service or have a shallow 5G penetration rate to reduce production costs.

Kuo has now doubled down on his prediction. In a follow-up research note today, viewed by MacRumors, he said Apple is still on track to release both sub-6GHz and sub-6GHz-plus-mmWave iPhone models simultaneously in the second half of 2020, with shipments beginning in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Last week, analyst Mehdi Hosseini had disagreed with Kuo's timeframe, claiming that sub-6GHz models would launch in September 2020 and mmWave models would follow in December 2020 or January 2021.

Kuo says development of 5G iPhones with both sub-6GHz and mmWave support is progressing as scheduled, however, and he has the more reputable track record as it relates to forecasting Apple's roadmap. So, as of now, it looks like the entire 5G iPhone lineup will be announced in September as usual.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Analyst Claims 5G iPhones Will Have Staggered Rollout Between September 2020 and January 2021

Last month, in a research note with TF International Securities, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects four high-end iPhones with 5G support to launch in the second half of 2020, including both sub-6GHz and sub-6GHz-and-mmWave models.


Kuo said iPhone models with mmWave would be available in five markets, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom, adding that Apple may disable sub-6GHz functionality in countries that do not offer 5G service or have a shallow 5G penetration rate to reduce production costs.

Based on checks within Apple's supply chain, however, Susquehanna analyst Mehdi Hosseini disagrees with Kuo's timeframe. Instead, he expects 5G-enabled iPhones to launch in two phases, including sub-6GHz models in September 2020 and mmWave models in December 2020 or January 2021.

The allegedly delayed launch of mmWave models stems from Apple's decision to use its own antenna-in-package modules instead of relying on a third-party supplier, said Hosseini, according to StreetInsider.

mmWave is the fastest 5G, utilizing new spectrum to provide theoretical download speeds of over 1 Gbps. Sub-6GHz is slower than mmWave, but it is still faster than 4G LTE and has broader coverage that makes it more suitable for rural areas.

Hosseini also expects one of the 5G-enabled iPhones to have an LCD, whereas Kuo said all four models would ship with OLED displays. One 5.4-inch model, two 6.1-inch models, and one 6.7-inch model are expected.

Kuo has a more established track record than Hosseini, so Apple's exact roadmap remains to be seen.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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2020 iPhones Expected to Feature Thinner and Possibly More Power Efficient Displays

At least some new iPhones in 2020 will feature touch-integrated displays supplied by LG, according to Korean website The Elec:
LG Display is aiming to upgrade its production facilities for flexible, Gen-6 OLED panels for smaller displays at its E6 lines in Paju of Gyeonggi Province. For this, the firm will be adding new equipment by early 2020 to produce touch-integrated panels, while switching to the LTPO backplane technology.

As the E6 lines are known to be Apple-exclusive, the touch-integrated screens are to be supplied to the new iPhones to be launched next year, according to industry sources on Dec. 17.
This mirrors a recent report from Korean website ETNews, which claimed that so-called iPhone 12 Pro models will adopt a technology that allows touchscreen circuitry to be directly patterned on the OLED panel without the need for a separate layer, resulting in a thinner display and lower production costs.


ETNews said a lower-cost 6.1-inch model, presumably the iPhone 12, will stick with a traditional film-based display.

It is unclear if thinner displays would translate to thinner iPhones as a whole this year. Notably, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are actually slightly thicker and heavier than the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, respectively, as Apple included larger batteries in its latest iPhones.

Today's report from The Elec also claims that LG is preparing to switch to LTPO backplane technology in the second half of 2020. The backplane is responsible for turning individual pixels on and off on the display.

LTPO, or low-temperature polycrystalline oxide, has an Oxide TFT structure that uses up to 15 percent less power than LTPS, or low-temperature polysilicon, the backplane technology that Apple currently uses. Naturally, that could contribute to more power efficient displays and longer battery life on 2020 iPhones.

Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 models already feature LTPO displays. Apple's website says the technology enables Series 5 models to have the same up-to-18-hour battery life as Series 4 models despite having an always-on display:
The low temperature poly-silicon and oxide display features a reinvented pixel architecture that lets the screen refresh rate dip from 60Hz to a power-sipping 1Hz when the watch is inactive. A new low-power driver, ultra-efficient power management, and a new ambient light sensor work together so the display can stay always on with up to 18 hours of battery life.
It is unclear if LG will be ready to mass produce LTPO displays in time for 2020 iPhones.

2020 is expected to be a big year for the iPhone, with rumors pointing to new display sizes and technologies, a redesigned metal frame similar to the iPhone 4, rear-facing 3D sensing, 5G support, up to 6GB of RAM, and more.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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TSMC Expected to Begin ‘A14’ 5nm Chip Production in Second Quarter

As expected, Apple chipmaker TSMC has secured orders for the "A14" processors to go in this year's iPhones and is expected to start manufacturing the chips in the second quarter, according to industry sources cited in a DigiTimes report.

The sources said Apple's 5G mmWave handsets to be released in 2020 are reportedly to each carry at least three AiP modules, which can also be packaged with FC_AiP (flip-chip) process in addition to InFo_AiP.
TSMC has been working hard to miniaturize its fabrication process to 5 nanometers – down from 7 nanometer fabrication seen in the A12 and A13 – with the aim of securing orders for Apple's processors in its iPhones for the fourth year running.

Previous successes in miniaturization have enabled the foundry to be Apple's exclusive supplier of A-series chips, beginning with the A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7/7 Plus, and continuing with the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone 8/8 Plus and ‌‌iPhone‌‌ X, the A12 Bionic in the iPhone XR/XS/XS Max, and the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11 series.

Last year it announced a $25 billion investment in the new 5nm node technology in a bid to remain the exclusive supplier of the processors.

Apple is expected to release five new ‌‌iPhone‌‌ models in 2020, including a so-called ‌iPhone SE 2‌ with a 4.7-inch LCD display in the first half of 2020, followed by a higher-end all-OLED 5G lineup consisting of 5.4-inch, two 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models in the second half of the year.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Tag: TSMC

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Sensor-Shift Technology Could Bring Image Stabilization to Ultra-Wide Lens on 2020 iPhones

Apple's high-end 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhones in 2020 will adopt sensor-shift image stabilization technology, according to a paywalled report today from hit-or-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes.


While details are slim, sensor-shift technology could bring image stabilization to the ultra-wide lens on high-end 2020 iPhones.

iPhone 11 Pro models feature optical image stabilization for both photo and video, but only when using the wide-angle or telephoto lenses. Sensor-shift technology could change this, as the stabilization would apply to the camera sensor itself and not be dependant on any specific lens.

Sensor-shifting image stabilization could also result in better shots with attachable lens accessories like the OlloClip.

The report backs rumors that the high-end 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhones will each sport a triple-lens rear camera system with time-of-flight 3D sensing. Largan Precision is said to be the primary supplier of the lenses, fulfilling 80 percent of orders, with Genius Electric Optical picking up the remaining 20 percent.

Taiwan-based ALPS will supply motors for the sensor-shifting stabilization, and Sony will offer CMOS image sensors, the report adds.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Kuo: High-End Smartphones in 2020 to Feature Longer Optical Zoom, Including 10x on Huawei’s P40 Pro

Optical zoom will be a key upgrade to high-end smartphones in 2020, according to the latest prediction from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a research note with TF International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said the rear camera on Huawei's upcoming P40 Pro will feature a redesigned periscope telephoto lens and become the world's first smartphone with 10x optical zoom. The device is expected to launch in the first half of 2020.


Huawei competitor Oppo had promised a smartphone with 10x optical zoom earlier this year, but it has so far only released a model with 10x hybrid zoom, which relies on a combination of optical zoom and software.

Kuo said enhanced optical zoom will extend to more high-end smartphones next year, although he did not specify if that will include the iPhone, which currently maxes out at 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom. Optical zoom preserves the quality of a shot when zooming in, while digital zoom results in some blurriness.

In other camera news, a supply chain report from DigiTimes today claims that Apple's high-end 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhones in 2020 will adopt sensor-shift image stabilization technology, but details are slim. It is unclear if this would represent an improvement over optical image stabilization in current iPhones.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Kuo: Next Year’s 5G iPhones With Redesigned Metal Frame Won’t Have Major Price Increase

Apple is rumored to launch four 5G-enabled iPhones in fall 2020, and while 5G-related components could raise the production costs of the devices by $30 to $100 depending on the model, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will not significantly increase the price of 5G iPhones compared to this year's lineup.

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models start at $999 and $1,099 respectively in the United States, while the iPhone 11 starts at $699.


In a research note with TF International Securities, viewed by MacRumors, Kuo said Apple instead aims to offset the cost of 5G by reducing its supply chain expenses, potentially including dropping its upfront non-recurring engineering payment to suppliers of the redesigned metal chassis and frame for 5G iPhones.

Non-recurring engineering refers to the one-time cost to research, design, develop, and test a new product or component. Kuo believes Apple will shift more of this research and development in house.

While the non-recurring engineering payment has typically helped Apple's suppliers stay afloat when iPhone sales start to slow during the spring and summer each year, Kuo believes it will be less essential in 2020 and beyond since Apple is expected to start releasing iPhones on a biannual basis going forward -- lower-end iPhones in the spring and higher-end iPhones in the fall.

Kuo has previously claimed that 5G iPhones will sport a redesigned metal frame with an iPhone 4-like design, suggesting a return to flatter edges. In today's note, he said both the chassis and frame on 5G iPhones will cost Apple significantly more to manufacture, perhaps pointing towards an even more premium design.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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2020 iPhones Could Have Larger Batteries Due to Tweaked Circuitry

2020 iPhones may have a custom battery protection module that is nearly 50 percent smaller and thinner than the battery protection circuit in previous iPhones, according to industry sources cited by Korean website The Elec.

The smaller module could free up some internal space in iPhone 12 models, potentially paving the way for a slight increase in battery capacity.


The report claims the smaller module would be supplied by Korea's ITM Semiconductor.

A battery protection circuit helps to prevent over-charging and over-discharging. The new module from ITM Semiconductor combines the protection circuit with a MOSFET and PCB, eliminating the need for a holder case.

Source: ITM Semiconductor

In a separate report, The Elec claimed that ITM Semiconductor has already supplied the new modules to Samsung for the Galaxy S11.

Apple is expected to release four high-end iPhones in 2020, including one 5.4-inch model, two 6.1-inch models, and one 6.7-inch model. All four devices are expected to have OLED displays, 5G support, a new iPhone 4-like metal frame, up to 6GB of RAM, up to triple-lens rear cameras with 3D sensing, and more.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has the largest battery life of any iPhone ever, lasting up to five hours longer than the iPhone XS Max per charge.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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