Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap, reduce processor costs by 40 to 60 percent, and provide Macs with more hardware differentiation from Windows PCs.


Earlier this month, Kuo said Apple's first Mac notebooks with Arm-based processors will launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.

Kuo expects ASMedia Technology to become the exclusive supplier of USB controllers for Arm-based Macs, adding that the Taiwanese integrated circuit designer will benefit from Macs gaining support for USB4 in 2022.

USB4 converges the Thunderbolt and USB protocols as part of Intel's goal to make Thunderbolt available on a royalty-free basis, which should result in wider and cheaper availability of Thunderbolt accessories like docks and eGPUs.

As USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3, it offers data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, which is twice as fast as the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification. USB4's underlying Thunderbolt 3 protocol also means the specification supports up to two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single cable.

The simplest way to view USB4 is as Thunderbolt 3, but royalty free for manufacturers. Intel will continue to offer Thunderbolt 3 on a standalone basis with a few advantages over USB4, including more support with reference designs and technical issues for manufacturers.

The new USB4 specification was published in September 2019, giving Apple plenty of time to implement it in time for 2022 Macs.
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Kuo: Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization Coming to 6.7-Inch iPhone in 2020, Periscope Lens to Follow in 2022

Apple is rumored to be planning a high-end 6.7-inch iPhone model for release in 2020, and multiple reports have indicated that the device will feature multiple rear camera improvements, including larger sensors that capture more light for better image quality.

The latest word comes from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who today said that the 6.7-inch iPhone will also feature sensor-shift image stabilization. In a research note with TF International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo predicted that the technology will expand to two to three new iPhone models in 2021.


While details are slim, sensor-shift technology could bring image stabilization to the Ultra Wide lens on future iPhones, starting with the 6.7-inch model. iPhone 11 Pro models feature optical image stabilization for both photo and video, but only when using the Wide or Telephoto lenses. Sensor-shift technology would provide a solution for 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.

Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes also claimed that sensor-shift image stabilization technology is coming to the 6.7-inch iPhone this year, so there are now multiple sources backing this rumor. The report claimed the technology would also be available on a higher-end model of two 6.1-inch iPhones that are rumored for 2020, but as mentioned above, Kuo expects the feature to be limited to the 6.7-inch iPhone until next year.

The rumored 6.7-inch iPhone would have the largest display of any iPhone ever. The device is rumored to be slightly taller than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Kuo today also predicted that at least one 2022 iPhone model will feature a periscope lens, which could allow for 5x optical zoom like Huawei's P30 Pro or even 10x optical zoom as is rumored for the device's P40 Pro successor. iPhones currently max 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.


Kuo claims the periscope lens will be designed by Apple in partnership with Taiwanese supplier Genius Electronic Optical.
Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Kuo: MacBooks With Apple-Designed Processors Coming Late 2020 or Early 2021, All-New Design to Follow in Mid 2021

In addition to forecasting the launch of new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with scissor keyboards in the second quarter of 2020, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple has bigger ambitions for its notebook lineup.

In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said Apple plans to launch MacBook models with its own custom processors in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021. Kuo did not indicate whether these will be MacBook Pro or MacBook Air models, or both, nor did he share any further details.


Rumors have suggested that Apple is working on custom Arm-based processors that would allow it to transition away from its current MacBook processor supplier Intel, which has occasionally experienced delays with its chips.

Kuo also believes that Apple will introduce MacBook models with an all-new design in the second or third quarter of 2021, but again, he did not indicate whether these will be Pro or Air models. The last significant redesign of the MacBook Pro occurred in October 2016, while the MacBook Air received a major redesign in October 2018.
Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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Kuo: New MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Models With Scissor Keyboards to Launch in Second Quarter

Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with scissor keyboards in the second quarter of 2020, according to a new research note today from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo did not comment on the size of the new MacBook Pro, but he is presumably referring to the 14-inch model that he has previously mentioned given that the 16-inch MacBook Pro was only released four months ago. The new 14-inch model would likely replace the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which would be discontinued.


Kuo expects the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models to have various cost optimizations, but he said users will not notice any difference.

The current 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are still equipped with butterfly keyboards that can suffer from issues such as sticky or unresponsive keys after prolonged use, which prompted Apple to initiate a free repair program worldwide in 2018. Apple finally solved this problem by reverting back to a scissor mechanism with the new Magic Keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which has proven far more reliable.

Kuo himself offered praise for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, noting that customer response to the notebook has been better than expected.

As for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Kuo believes that operations at MacBook-related suppliers will improve significantly starting in late March, paving the way for mass production of the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

If this information proves to be accurate, then Apple's entire notebook lineup should feature scissor keyboards by the end of 2020.
Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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Apple Working on Six Mini-LED Products Including New 14.1-Inch MacBook Pro and Refreshed iMac Pro

Apple has six mini-LED products in the works that are set to debut in 2020 and 2021, and production is not expected to be delayed by the coronavirus, according to a new note to investors sent out this morning by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Apple is developing a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a 27-inch iMac Pro, a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro, a 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, a 10.2.-inch iPad, and a 7.9-inch ‌iPad‌ mini. Kuo does not provide specific launch dates for the items with the exception of the ‌iMac Pro‌, which he says will launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the 7.9-inch ‌iPad‌ mini, which he says will launch in 2020.
The product research and development for mini LED remain unaffected by the COVID-19. The visibility for commercialization has even exceeded the expectations in our previous report.

The trend for Apple’s development and promotion of mini LED are more identifiable in five years. We predict that Apple is currently developing six mini-LED-support products (vs. the previous report of only two products), including a 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, a 27-inch ‌iMac Pro‌ in 4Q20, a 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ (upgraded from 13.3-inch), a 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, a 10.2-inch ‌iPad‌, and a 7.9-inch ‌iPad‌ mini in 2020.
Of particular interest in Kuo's note is the mention of the 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, as this is the first indication that we've had that Apple is planning a new size for its smaller ‌MacBook Pro‌ offering. The 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ will be sold alongside a refreshed 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌. The mention of an ‌iMac Pro‌ is also notable as Apple has not refreshed its ‌iMac Pro‌ since it launched in 2017.

According to Kuo, Apple's mini-LED products are expected to come out in 2020 and 2021, but in previous notes, Kuo has said we can expect to see the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ with a mini-LED display in the fourth quarter of 2020, so that could also be when the 14.1-inch version will launch.

Kuo has also said that the mini-LED version of 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, which is expected to be a high-end option, will launch in the fall of 2020. Current rumors indicate that this fall 12.9-inch model will come after a spring refresh of other ‌iPad Pro‌ models.


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Kuo: iPhone Production Will Not Significantly Improve Until Second Quarter of 2020

Apple's iPhone production will not significantly improve until the second quarter of 2020, according to a research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors. In the past few weeks, Kuo has warned of delays and low labor return rates at Apple supplier factories in China.


‌iPhone‌ camera lens shipments from supplier Genius Electronic Optical reportedly fell significantly over the past month, and supplies are dwindling. Kuo predicts there is about a month of lens inventory remaining, with significant production resuming in May at the earliest.

Looking forward to upcoming models, Kuo predicts the 2020 iPhones will maintain the same ultra-wide lens design as the iPhone 11.

Kuo in January predicted that all of the 5G iPhones were still on track to launch in the fall of 2020. More recently, Kuo mentioned that the long-rumored "iPhone 9" or "iPhone SE 2" would still be on track to launch in the first half of 2020 despite the coronavirus outbreak.

With the effects of COVID-19 reaching global status, it remains to be seen how much more of an impact the virus will have on Apple's supply chain.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro

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Mac With Apple-Designed Arm Processor Coming in First Half of 2021

Apple's first Mac with a processor designed in house is set to be released during the first half of 2021, Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo said in a note to investors this morning that was obtained by MacRumors.


There are no other details provided about the new Mac that's in the works, but the detail confirms multiple past rumors that have suggested Apple is working on custom Arm-based processors designed in-house that would allow it to transition away from Intel. Over the years, Apple's product releases have been stymied by Intel chip delays, and with its own chips, Apple will not be tied to Intel chip release cycles.

Earlier information indicated Apple could begin using Arm-based chips as soon as 2020, but Kuo's note indicates a new Mac with an Apple-designed chip won't be released this year.

Apple is said to be moving to Arm-based chips in an effort to make Macs, iPhones, and iPads work together and run the same apps. Apple's iPhones and iPads already use Arm-based chip technology, and there are custom Apple-created T2 chips in the iMac Pro and recent MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and Mac Pro models.

Kuo's detail about an upcoming Mac with an Apple-designed chip is a tidbit mentioned briefly in a note that suggests 5-nanometer chip architecture will be the "core technology" in Apple's new products in the next 12 to 18 months.
We expect that Apple's new products in 12-18 months will adopt processors made by 5nm process, including the new 2H20 5G iPhone, new 2H20 iPad equipped with mini LED, and new 1H21 Mac equipped with the own-design processor. We think that iPhone 5G support, ‌iPad‌'s adoption of innovative mid-size panel technology, and Mac's first adoption of the own-design processor are all Apple's critical product and technology strategies. Given that the processor is the core component of new products, we believe that Apple had increased 5nm-related investments after the epidemic outbreak. Further, Apple occupying more resources of related suppliers will hinder competitors' developments.
The new Mac with Apple-designed chip, the 2020 ‌5G iPhone‌, and a high-end ‌iPad‌ with a mini LED display rumored for the second half of 2020 are said to use 5-nanometer chips. Chips built on a 5-nanometer node will be faster and more efficient than the A13 chips used in the most recent iPhones that are built on a 7-nanometer+ process.

Apple is said to have become "more aggressive" when it comes to research, development, and production for 5-nanometer chip technology, ramping up investments to reduce uncertainty caused by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China.


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Luxshare Precision to Assemble Apple Watch Series 6 and Older iPhones

Luxshare Precision, one of Apple's suppliers for devices like AirPods and Apple Watch, is going to be taking on more responsibility in the coming months as it prepares to begin assembling Apple's iPhones.

In a note to investors, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this afternoon shared details on what Luxshare Precision will be working on this year.


The supplier is expected to enter the iPhone assembly business "in the long run" and earlier than market expectations to allow Apple to diversify its supply chain and cut down on the risk of supply shortages. Kuo believes Luxshare Precision will become a key ‌iPhone‌ case component supplier by the second half of 2021.
The key reason we make this prediction is because the new ‌iPhone‌ product cycle is shortened, so if Luxshare Precision can enter the ‌iPhone‌ assembly business, it is expected to reduce Apple's new ‌iPhone‌ development and supply risk. To ensure a smooth initial assembly business, we expect Luxshare Precision to start assembly from older ‌iPhone‌ models.
Luxshare Precision will start out assembling older ‌iPhone‌ models and will work closely with casing manufacturers to cut down on initial entry challenges. Luxshare Precision is said to have a unique vertical integration advantage because it also provides many ‌iPhone‌ parts and accessories to Apple.

Kuo says that he believes Luxshare Precision will also ship the new ‌Apple Watch‌ expected in the second half of 2020, which would be the Series 6 model. There are no details included about the device, but past rumors have suggested the new device could feature faster performance, improved water resistance, and better wireless transmission.

Rumors also indicate we can expect to see sleep tracking functionality introduced as one of the key capabilities of the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6.

Prior information from DigiTimes about the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6 suggested the device would be assembled by Foxconn and Compal Electronics while Luxshare Precision would assemble older ‌Apple Watch‌ models, so Kuo's information does conflict with what we've previously heard.

It's possible that Compal Electronics, Foxconn, and Luxshare Precision will all share orders for the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6 models.

According to Kuo, Apple's assembly orders in 2020 are "better than expected," which will benefit suppliers like Luxshare Precision "in the long term."

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Kuo: Supply Chain to Ramp Up for Apple’s Ultra Wideband Tags in Second to Third Quarter of 2020

Shanghai-based manufacturing company Universal Scientific Industrial will begin supplying the system-in-package for Apple's upcoming Ultra Wideband item tracking tags in the second to third quarter of 2020, with shipments to reach tens of millions of units by the end of the year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a research note with TF International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said Universal Scientific Industrial will be the primary supplier of the system-in-package for the tags, fulfilling around 60 percent of orders. Similar to the one inside AirPods, the system-in-package would be a densely packed circuit board, and it would likely include the Apple-designed U1 chip for Ultra Wideband support.

Apple's tag image asset in iOS 13 code

Last month, Kuo said the Ultra Wideband tag would be one of Apple's major new hardware products in the first half of 2020, but he has yet to provide a more specific release date for the accessory.

Multiple reports this week have indicated that a new lower-cost iPhone model and refreshed iPad Pro models with 3D sensing could debut as early as next month, possibly at an as-yet unannounced Apple event on Tuesday, March 31. It is certainly possible that the Ultra Wideband tags could also be unveiled at the March event, if one transpires, but the second to third quarter timeframe for system-in-package shipments leaves room for an announcement at WWDC 2020 in June as well.

It is worth noting that Apple has introduced many of its first-generation hardware products several months in advance of their release, including the original iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and HomePod, so whether the Ultra Wideband tags are announced in March or June, they might not ship until later in the year.


MacRumors uncovered evidence of Apple working on Tile-like item trackers in iOS 13 code last year, including an unreleased "Items" tab in the Find My app and a potential "AirTag" name for the small, circular tags.

Users would receive a notification when they are separated from a tagged item and, if necessary, they would be able to tap a button in the Find My app that would result in Apple's tag chiming. It would also be possible to disable notifications for "safe locations" such as a home or workplace.

Apple's internal "Items" tab in the Find My app for its Ultra Wideband tags

Apple's tags will likely incorporate augmented reality. Last year, for example, MacRumors discovered that a 3D red balloon could help a user pinpoint a lost item after scanning a room with their iPhone. In his research note today, Kuo echoes that the Ultra Wideband tags will benefit augmented reality applications.

iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models are also equipped with an Apple-designed U1 chip with Ultra Wideband, which Apple's website says will lead to "amazing new capabilities," and AirTags will likely be one of them.


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Kuo: iPhone SE 2 Launch Still Planned for First Half of 2020 Despite Coronavirus Outbreak

We've been hearing for some time that Apple is planning to launch a new low-cost iPhone based on the iPhone 8, but with upgraded internals. This device has been referred to in rumors as the "iPhone SE 2" or "iPhone 9," although concerns over the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus on production have raised some questions about timing for the launch.


In a new research note seen by MacRumors, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo briefly mentions that the ‌iPhone SE 2‌ is still expected to launch in the first half of this year. The mention comes in a larger report about smartphone camera lens suppliers, with Kuo noting that the ‌iPhone SE 2‌ will not include a 7-element plastic (7P) lens, and so will not contribute toward shipments of those advanced lenses.
Because Apple expects that the new ‌iPhone‌ SE2 released in 1H20 will not use a 7P lens, it will not help the 7P lens shipment momentum.
It's unsurprising that the ‌iPhone SE 2‌ won't include a 7P lens, as the ‌iPhone 8‌ includes a 6P rear camera lens. With Apple looking to keep pricing on the new phone as low as possible, it will almost certainly be reusing components wherever possible, with the exception of key performance-related components like the A-series chip, which is rumored to move from the A11 chip in the ‌iPhone 8‌ to Apple's latest A13 chip.

A separate report today claims that an update to Apple's iPad Pro lineup is expected "around March," so it's possible we could see a media event next month for Apple to introduce several new products.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE 2

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