iPhone suppliers are said to be preparing for low orders from Apple in the first quarter of 2018 because of a combination of seasonal factors and anxiety over reports of slower-than-expected sales of Apple’s latest smartphone line-up.
According to DigiTimes‘ sources in the supply chain, several component suppliers are bracing themselves for low order visibility for the full range of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models.
Component orders for iPhone devices will come 15-30% less than expected for the first quarter due mostly to seasonal factors, but some sources argued that the slower-than-expected sales of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have dragged down the momentum for the iPhone X.
The report highlights signs of declining order visibility for Apple’s flagship phones that appeared as early as the fourth quarter of 2017, which is said to have led some suppliers to plan for temporary halts in production during the month of February.
Another influencing factor on the decision is the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays, which significantly reduce capacity utilization rates, according to the same sources.
Several upstream suppliers are reportedly cognizant of the need to control their inventory levels to offset the possible impact of low orders, including those for memory chips, camera modules, 3D sensing modules, PCBs and IC backend service firms.
Reports remain conflicted about actual iPhone X sales since the smartphone was launched in September. Recent OS data from Kantar Worldpanel indicated “stellar” performance of the iPhone X in multiple markets around the world during November, amid an overall “mixed performance” for iOS devices from September to November 2017.
However, in December 2017, sources in the semiconductor packaging and testing service industry claimed that pre-orders for the iPhone X were not as strong as expected in some markets. Numerous reports in recent weeks have weighed in on the topic of sales, with many analysts predicting weakened demand in Q1 2018 now that early adopters have received their iPhone X.
Apple increased its share of smartphone activations in the fourth quarter of 2017, following the release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, according to data shared with MacRumors by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
iPhones accounted for 39 percent of activations in the United States between October and December, up from 34 percent in the year-ago quarter, based on CIRP’s survey of 500 people who activated a new or used smartphone during that period.
Samsung was the runner-up with a 32 percent share of activations during the quarter, trailed by LG at 13 percent. All other smartphone vendors, including Motorola, HTC, and others, accounted for the remaining 16 percent share.
The survey findings are rather unsurprising given a trio of new iPhones launched between late September and early November, while Google’s Pixel 2 and LG’s V30 were essentially the only major Android smartphones to debut during the quarter.
CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz:
Apple’s iOS increased its mobile operating system share in the US in the most recent quarter. While Android still leads, the launch of the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X models, without similar new Android phones, allowed Apple to increase its share of activations in the quarter, relative last quarter and to the year-ago quarter.
The survey also shows that Apple and Samsung continue to form a smartphone duopoly in the United States, with no sign that’ll change any time soon.
iPhone users hoping to double dip on Apple’s discounted $29 battery replacements this year may find themselves out of luck.
While we previously confirmed that Apple is offering $29 battery replacements to any customer with an iPhone 6 or newer regardless of diagnostic result, Apple has indicated that this policy can only be taken advantage of once, according to new fine print on its iPhone service pricing page.
In other words, after you’ve had your iPhone’s battery replaced once this year, the device must explicitly fail the diagnostic test to qualify for any additional battery replacements for $29. If the test passes, a customer can still choose to have the battery replaced, but Apple’s standard $79 fee applies.
While it’s unlikely customers would need to have their iPhone battery replaced more than once in a year, some people may have planned on taking advantage of the $29 deal now, and then again near the end of 2018, as the combined $58 cost for two replacements would still be cheaper than the standard $79.
To initiate the process, read our guide on how to get your iPhone’s battery replaced with an appointment at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider, or by mailing the device to an Apple Repair Center.
The iPhone has been named the “best-selling tech product of 2017” by analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights (via USA Today).
Apple’s smartphone achieved the same ranking in 2016, and Ives said that the company will sell a total of 223 million iPhones in 2017, increasing from 211 million sold in 2016.
The iPhone was followed by Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 (33 million), Amazon Echo Dot (24 million), Apple Watch (20 million), and Nintendo Switch (15 million).
The rankings include all models of iPhone grouped together, explaining why the gap is so large between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8.
But all in all, Apple sold more iPhones total, although less than the peak year of 2015, when it moved 230 million units. (That was the year of the iPhone 6, a redesign that brought a bigger iPhone to consumers for the first time and enthralled the public.)
Ives thinks Apple will have an even bigger 2018, with a spring update to its compact SE iPhone and more new phones in the fall. Out of the billion-plus consumer base of the iPhone, “350 million of them will upgrade next year,” says Ives.
In the fourth spot, Ives described Apple Watch as a product that’s now “found its niche” in the wearables market, thanks to the LTE Series 3 update that makes it less reliant on the iPhone. The analyst also cited ongoing discounts for older models, improved battery life on the Series 3, and Apple’s pivot away from marketing the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory to one mainly used for fitness and working out.
Earlier this week, data shared by mobile analytics firm Flurry described the iPhone and iPad as the most popular items gifted around the world for the holidays. Flurry looked at device activations from December 19 to December 25 and noted that 44 percent of new device activations were for Apple products, with the iPhone 7 leading the pack at 15.1 percent of Apple product activations. For the newer models, the iPhone X was at 14.7 percent while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sat at 8.1 and 8.7 percent, respectively.
Two days ago, we reported that Energous had received FCC certification for the company’s first-generation WattUp Mid Field transmitter, which powers up devices at a distance of up to three feet away. As noted by VentureBeat, this week also saw two new Apple wireless power patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
While the patents don’t confirm anything on their own, rumors have floated since 2015 that Energous has been working with Apple on a truly wireless charging solution for future mobile devices, so they may offer an idea of what users can expect, should the rumors prove accurate.
The first patent, covered by Patently Apple, describes a way of creating custom schedules for a charger capable of sending power to multiple devices such as phones, laptops, tablets, and watches over a “wireless power transfer link”. The power profiler works so as to remember the order of priority for charging the devices – if the user wants their Apple Watch to be fully charged before their iPad, for instance.
In another example, the user can set more nuanced preferences for charging priority, by requesting, say, that their watch is charged first but only if their iPad has at least 25 percent battery power; or requesting that their iPhone takes charging priority over all else during the evening, but only if their calendar indicates that they will be out of the office the next morning.
The second patent is less detailed, but describes a wireless power transmitting device that can function as a standalone adaptor, or send power a wireless charging mat, and in some embodiments, can be hidden in furniture or incorporated into a vehicle interior, in order to charge a “wireless power receiving device”. The receiving device is described as being capable of pausing wireless power transmission and sending information back to the power source if necessary.
Both patents were filed in June of this year, have not yet been granted, and as with all Apple patents, may never appear as consumer devices, but the power scheduling systems described above may yet prove to be the link to Energous’ wire-free solutions. Whether Apple decides 2018 is the year to build upon the contact-based wireless charging capability it introduced with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X remains to be seen.
With the release of the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple now supports Qi-based wireless inductive charging on its latest phones, and that means charging pads have quickly become popular accessories for iPhone owners.
Apple’s favored partners for wireless charging pads are Belkin and mophie, and Apple is carrying a $60 charger from each company in its own online and retail stores. But there are lots of other options available on the market, and we’ve had a chance to try out a number of them, so we’re rounding them up in this guide, which we’ll continue to update going forward.
With the year quickly drawing to a close, now is an opportune time to reflect on the biggest Apple rumors and leaks of 2017.
Many new products released by Apple this year were widely rumored in the months leading up to their introductions, including the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and new iPads. We even had an advanced look at software features like Animoji.
2017 was a particularly interesting year for Apple rumors given leaked or prematurely released versions of iOS 11 and HomePod firmware contained references to several products that had yet to be announced. While not every rumor proved true, much of Apple’s roadmap this year was revealed ahead of time.
We’ve rounded up some of the most notable rumors and leaks of the year, primarily focusing on information that proved to be accurate.
2017 in Rumors
iPhone X is so radically different that rumors about the device began to surface all the way back in early 2016, so we’ll start with a primer.
In May 2016, Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber heard early scuttlebutt suggesting the device would have an edge-to-edge display, with the front-facing camera, Touch ID, and other sensors hidden under the display.
The information provided to Gruber wasn’t entirely accurate, but he was on the right track. Rumors continued to surface about Apple removing the home button and adopting facial or iris recognition in lieu of Touch ID.
In September 2016, Kuo said stainless steel would likely be Apple’s metal of choice for the iPhone X’s frame, with slightly curved 2.5D cover glass on top of the display, as used since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
iPhone X part leak in June 2017 reveals vertically-aligned dual-lens camera
By the end of 2016, several reports had claimed Apple would release a trio of new iPhones in 2017, including the all-new 5.8-inch model and updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models to replace the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
The first iPhone X rumors of 2017 lent credence to the device having a stainless steel frame, facial recognition, and support for inductive charging, rather than RF-based over-the-air wireless charging from Energous.
In March, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo dismissed a rumor about the iPhone X having a USB-C connector, noting that it would still have a Lightning connector with support for fast charging via USB-C Power Delivery.
In late March, analysts at Barclays said the iPhone X would have a True Tone display that shifts colors based on ambient lighting.
In April, we saw the first schematic of the iPhone X’s sensor housing, more commonly known as the notch. The notch houses the front camera, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, a dot projector, a microphone, an ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, and an earpiece that doubles as a speaker.
Rumors about Apple placing Touch ID on the back of the iPhone X persisted into May, but they ultimately proved to be inaccurate. Also in May, we learned the device would have louder stereo speakers.
July saw both KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg confirm that Face ID would fully replace Touch ID on the iPhone X.
Perhaps the biggest iPhone X leak to date came in late July courtesy of Apple itself. Shortly after the company accidentally released an internal version of firmware for its upcoming HomePod speaker, developers uncovered a glyph of an iPhone with an all-screen design except for a notch at the top.
Despite so much of the iPhone X being revealed in the HomePod firmware, August still saw some fresh leaks, including a photo of the device’s A11 Bionic chip. Japanese website Mac Otakara also reported that the iPhone X’s inductive charging ability would support transmission of up to 7.5 watts of power.
As if the HomePod firmware leaks weren’t bad enough for Apple, MacRumors was anonymously provided with download links to a final version of iOS 11 in early September. The software update contained several unredacted references to unannounced iPhone X hardware and software features.
MacRumors uncovered iPhone X screenshots within the iOS 11 filesystem that showed off the new gesture-based home screen indicator. There were also hints that the elongated side button, previously known as the sleep-wake button, could be held to activate Siri or double tapped to bring up the Apple Pay wallet.
The golden master of iOS 11 also referenced the Face ID name for Apple’s facial recognition system, True Tone support, a collection of new iPhone X wallpapers, and Apple’s new Portrait Lighting feature, including the Contour Light, Natural Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, and Studio Light options.
Within the iOS 11 filesystem, we also found a video file showing four different Animoji characters, including a monkey, cat, dog, and robot. The discovery made it clear that Apple had been working on animated emoji that could presumably be controlled with the iPhone X’s then-rumored facial recognition system.
The iOS 11 golden master soon made its way into the hands of some developers, who continued to make discoveries, including technical details about the A11 Bionic being a six-core chip with two high power cores and four low power cores.
While the results make it look like the iPhone 8 is more popular than the iPhone X, it’s important to consider that Apple’s flagship smartphone was more commonly referred to as the iPhone 8 in rumors until a leaked version of iOS 11 essentially confirmed its stealthier name back in August.
In the consumer tech category, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were the most popular search terms in 2017, ahead of the Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Xbox One X in the top five globally. In the United States in particular, the iPhone 8 Plus was the sixth most popular search term.
Google Trends outlines other popular search terms in its Year in Search 2017 categories, including actors, athletes, car brands, exercises, movies, recipes, songs and lyrics, sports teams, TV shows, and world events.
The results are similar to last year, when the iPhone 7 was the most searched smartphone brand on Google, but the second most popular search term overall behind smash-hit game Pokémon GO.