Kuo: 2019 iPhones and New iPad Pro Models in Late 2019 to Early 2020 to Adopt New Antenna Technology

Apple plans to use modified-PI (MPI) material for most antennas in 2019 iPhones, rather than the liquid crystal polymer (LCP) material used for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR antennas, according to the latest research note from reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, obtained by MacRumors.


Kuo believes that LCP limits the RF performance of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR antennas due to current technology limitations and production issues. This puts the RF performance of MPI material at least on par with LCP, despite MPI being easier and cheaper to produce.

While switching to MPI material for 2019 iPhone antennas appears to be a no-brainer decision for Apple, Kuo expects that LCP will still be the primary material for 5G antennas in 2020 iPhones, as he believes that the production issues limiting the RF performance of LCP will be resolved by then.

In today's note, Kuo also said he expects Apple to use LCP material in future iPad models, starting from the late fourth quarter of 2019.


In a separate research note last month, which has only been seen by Taiwanese media so far, Kuo said two new iPad Pro models with the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes as the current models will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Kuo said those new iPad Pro models will feature flexible circuit boards using LCP, but we've yet to receive that research note in English, so we cannot confirm any further details at this time.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, 2019 iPhones

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Kuo: Two New AirPods Models Likely in Late 2019 to Early 2020, Including One With ‘All-New Design’

Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models as early as the fourth quarter of 2019, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo forecasts that two new AirPods models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor expected to be Apple's primary suppliers of the new earphones.

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.

Both new AirPods models are said to adopt a new system-in-package design internally, which can improve assembly yield rates, save space internally, and reduce costs, but Kuo does not elaborate on outward-facing design changes.

The lead excerpt from Kuo's research note:
We expect Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models in 4Q19 at the earliest. One is the all-new form factor design at a higher price. The other's outlook and price will be the same as the current model's. A common internal design factor of these two new AirPods will be to abandon the current "SMT+RFPCB" design and change to adopt the SiP design instead for improving assembly yield rates, saving internal space and reducing cost.
Kuo is "positive on the demand for AirPods" and Apple's wireless headphones market share, as he believes the "all-new design" of one of the new models "could boost the replacement demand and attract new users." He estimates AirPods shipments will reach 52 million units in 2019 and 75-85 million units in 2020.

Last month, Apple launched 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's Mark Gurman was first to reveal Apple's roadmap for AirPods, including the second-generation pair with "Hey Siri" support, while DigiTimes also expects third-generation AirPods to launch by the end of the year.

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

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Kuo: 2020 iPhones to Support 5G, Qualcomm and Samsung Likely to Supply Modems

2020 iPhones will support 5G networks, with chipmaker Qualcomm likely to supply Apple with 5G modems for the devices after the two companies settled their high-profile legal battle last week, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Interestingly, Kuo also expects Samsung to fulfill some of the 5G modem orders in select markets. Apple frequently aims to diversify its supply chain in an effort to reduce risk and have improved bargaining power, potentially reducing its costs as multiple suppliers engage in a price war to win orders.

An excerpt from Kuo's latest research note, obtained by MacRumors:
Apple and Qualcomm's end of patent dispute and entrance into a six-year licensing deal implies new 2H20 iPhone models will support 5G; Qualcomm and Samsung are potential 5G baseband chip suppliers: The market was worried that Intel's disappointing 5G baseband chip development might be the most severe uncertainty for the new 2H20 iPhone models' adoption of 5G. But we believe the uncertainty has been removed after Apple and Qualcomm's end of patent dispute and entrance into a six-year licensing deal, and Intel's announcement that it will exit the 5G baseband chip business. We expect Apple will likely adopt 5G baseband chips made by Qualcomm (focus on mmWave markets) and Samsung (focus on Sub-6GHz markets) for lowering supply risk, reducing costs and having better bargaining power.
Kuo believes that 5G will be a boon for both iPhone sales and Apple's supply chain in 2020. He forecasts total iPhone shipments of 195–200 million units in 2020, including 70–75 million 5G models released in the second half of the year.

Qualcomm was already the widely expected frontrunner for 5G modems in 2020 iPhones after Intel announced it is exiting the 5G smartphone modem business.


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Kuo: 2019 iPhones to Feature 12MP Front Cameras, Special Black Coating to Hide Lenses, and More

All three 2019 iPhones will feature 12-megapixel single-lens front cameras, up from 7-megapixels on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, according to the latest research note from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


The note, obtained by MacRumors, adds that the next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED displays respectively will also feature triple-lens rear cameras, including a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 12-megapixel super-wide-angle lens supplied by Sony:
We forecast the camera upgrade will be one of the new 2H19 iPhone's major selling points. Critical spec upgrades are as follows. (1) Rear cameras of 6.5-inch OLED, 5.8-inch OLED, and 6.1-inch LCD will likely upgrade to triple-camera and dual-camera, respectively. A super-wide camera will be newly adopted by the triple-camera system, which is equipped with the 12MP/1um CIS provided exclusively by Sony. (2) The front camera of all three new iPhone models will likely upgrade to 12MP CIS+5P lens (vs. current 7MP CIS+4P lens).
Kuo believes the next iPhone XR with a 6.1-inch LCD display will sport a dual-lens rear camera, as the WSJ previously reported, although he did not provide megapixels or any other camera specifications for that model. The rear camera on the current iPhone XR is a single 12-megapixel wide-angle lens.

Kuo says the rear super-wide-angle lens and front camera lens on the next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will adopt "black lens-coating technologies," which will make the lenses look "inconspicuous," as hinted at previously.

The rumored triple-lens camera design on the next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max has proved quite controversial, but the special coating should help the far-right lens blend into the black bezels for a more aesthetically pleasing look.

Rumored design of triple-lens rear camera on next iPhones via OnLeaks

A chart from the research note:


Kuo says the new iPhones will be introduced in the second half of 2019. This is no surprise, as Apple has unveiled new iPhones in September every year since 2012. Last year, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max became available to order on September 14, followed by the iPhone XR on October 19.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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Kuo Revises New 15-17″ MacBook Pro Launch to First Half of 2021, 31″ 6K Display Still Expected in Mid 2019

A few months ago, well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new Apple products in 2019, including a 16 to 16.5-inch MacBook Pro, 31.6-inch 6K standalone display, and a 10.2-inch iPad. In a follow-up research note, however, Kuo has revised some of his details and timing.


Kuo now predicts that Apple will release a new 15- to 17-inch MacBook Pro in the first half of 2021 and a new 10- to 12-inch iPad between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. He still expects the 31.6-inch 6K display to launch in either the second or third quarter of this year.

Economic Daily News chart based on Kuo note

Kuo's latest research note was first covered in Chinese by the Economic Daily News and MoneyDJ, so we're relying on a machine translation, and it is possible some details have been mistranslated. We'll update this article if necessary once we receive a first-hand copy of the note in English.

Kuo's original research note said the new MacBook Pro will feature an "all-new design." He also said Apple may add a 32GB RAM option to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. As for the 6K display, Kuo said it will have "outstanding picture quality thanks to its adoption of a Mini LED-like backlight design."

Kuo's original research note also called for several other new Apple products in 2019, including a trio of new iPhones with larger batteries and two-way charging, a new iPod touch, a new iPad mini, new AirPods, and the AirPower. Some of those products launched last month, while the AirPower was canceled.

Related Roundups: Apple Display 6K, MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

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Two-Way Wireless Charging and Larger Batteries Coming to 2019 iPhones

Apple's 2019 iPhones are going to have a two-way wireless charging feature that will allow the iPhone to charge other devices like the AirPods, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo again confirmed in a report sent out to investors today.

Kuo previously mentioned the feature briefly in a February note, and today he goes into a bit more depth about the suppliers who will benefit from the feature.

Two-way wireless charging as demonstrated in the Galaxy S10+

Two-way wireless charging, or bilateral charging, will let the Qi-based iPhones coming in 2019 charge another iPhone or the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case. You'll essentially be able to charge any Qi-based device with your iPhone, as it will work as a wireless charger itself. From Kuo:
We expect the new 2H19 iPhone models will support two-way wireless charging. Though the iPhone is not the first high-end smartphone to be equipped with two-way wireless charging, this new function could make it more convenient for users to charge the new AirPods and create a better integrated user experience of the iPhone and AirPods.
This is a feature that Samsung has already debuted in its 2019 Galaxy smartphones, and in those devices, it's known as Wireless PowerShare. Wireless PowerShare allows the 2019 Galaxy smartphones to charge other Qi-based accessories, including the iPhone.

According to Kuo, suppliers such as Compeq (will supply battery boards) and STMicro (will supply two-way wireless charging controller) stand to benefit from Apple's inclusion of two-way wireless charging as it will increase the average selling price of key components.

To accommodate two-way wireless charging, Kuo believes battery boards included in 2019 iPhones will increase in size, as will battery pack capacity. Kuo says that battery capacities for the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max successor could increase by 10 to 15 percent, while the battery capacity of the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone XS successor could grow by 20 to 25 percent. The iPhone XR successor isn't expected to see much of a gain, though, with Kuo predicting growth of 0 to 5 percent.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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Kuo: Apple’s AR Glasses to Launch in 2020 as iPhone Accessory

Apple's first rumored head-mounted augmented reality device could be ready by the middle of next year, according to a new report out today from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via Economic Daily News [Google Translate]).

A fanciful mockup of digital glasses via TechAcute

According to Kuo, Apple's AR glasses will be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone.

Designing the AR glasses to work as an iPhone accessory is also expected to allow Apple to keep the glasses slim and lightweight, rather than trying to pack in all the processing hardware into the one device.

Kuo believes Apple is aiming to begin mass-producing the glasses as early as the fourth quarter of this year, although he admits the timeframe could be pushed back to the second quarter of 2020.

Back in November 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple was developing an AR headset and aimed to have it ready by 2019, although the company could ship a product in 2020. The report said the headset would run on a new custom operating system, based on iOS, and dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."

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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Kuo Increases Galaxy S10 Shipment Estimates Due to ‘Spec Differentiation From iPhone Models’

Respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who works for TF International Securities, today increased his forecast of Galaxy S10 shipments by 30 percent due to better than expected pre-order demand.

Kuo attributes the better-than-expected shipment momentum to several factors including spec differentiation from iPhone models.

Pre-order demand for the S10 series is better than expected. Worldwide pre-order demand for the S10 series grows by 30-40% YoY compared to that for the S9 series based on our survey. Therefore, we will increase shipment estimates of the S10 series in 2019 by 30% from 30-35mn to 40-45 units. S10+ and S10 account for 85% or more of total shipments.

We believe that the better-than-expected shipment momentum of S10 series is due to (1) the market's bearish view on high-end smartphone growth, (2) spec differentiation from iPhone models, including an ultrasonic fingerprint on display (FOD), rear triple-camera, and bilateral wireless charging, (3) much better-than-expected demand in China market, and (4) trade-in programs.
As Kuo points out, there are notable differences between Samsung's newest phone and Apple's current crop of iPhones. Samsung devices have a triple-lens camera setup with an ultra-wide lens, and an ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor.

Apple is rumored to be planning to introduce a similar camera setup in the 2019 iPhones, but because it uses Face ID facial recognition instead of a fingerprint sensor, Samsung's under-display fingerprint recognition technology will continue to set it apart from Apple.

Kuo believes the under-display fingerprint sensor and the triple camera are the "spotlights" of the S10 series.

Samsung's Galaxy S10 and S10+ are available for pre-order and are set to launch later this week.


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16-Inch MacBook Pro, 6K Apple Display, AirPower, AirPods 2 and More Predicted for 2019 [Video]

Last night, we saw the release of a extensive research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who laid out his timeline for product releases from Apple in the coming year. MacRumors videographer Dan Barbera recaps Kuo's predictions in this video which covers an extensive range of products including an all new 16" MacBook Pro, 6K Apple Display and much more.


Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Kuo is well regarded in the rumor community due to a very good track record at predicting Apple's products. Kuo gathers intelligence from his contacts in Apple's Asian supply chain, translating the information he gleans into research notes for clients.

Our Coverage

We've updated our Upcoming Apple Products Guide based on this new information.


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AirPower and New AirPods Said to Ship in First Half of 2019, New iPod Touch With Faster Processor Also Expected

Apple's long-awaited AirPower wireless charging mat and a new version of AirPods with wireless charging support and upgraded Bluetooth connectivity will start shipping in the first half of 2019, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Kuo also expects a new iPod touch with a faster processor to launch in 2019.

While there's been a flurry of recent rumors about the AirPower and 2nd generation AirPods, there have also been conflicting reports on the possible launch dates for the two products. One recent report specifically placed the launch of the new AirPods in the fall of 2019. We were skeptical about that report at the time, and now Kuo gives another reason to believe that the new AirPods and AirPower will be shipping in the first half of this year.

Related Roundups: iPod touch, AirPods 2

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