07/05 Update below. This post was originally published on July 2
Apple’s iPhone 14 range is just two months away and, while leaks have revealed everything from their battery capacities to potential price increases, one surprising detail was overlooked: a new name.
In September, Apple is expected to announce a more affordable version of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which was widely assumed to be called the ‘iPhone 14 Max’. But a detailed supply chain report from analyst Omdia, uses a far more logical name.
Breaking with leaks to date, Omdia senior research director David Hsieh refers to the new device (and iPhone 13 Mini replacement) as the ‘iPhone 14 Plus’. This makes a lot of sense. It harks back to Apple’s previous branding for its biggest phones and creates greater delineation between two 6.7-inch models.
07/04 Update: further supply chain information has leaked around Apple’s iPhone 14 release plans. Countering an earlier report from Digitimes, which claimed Apple had been forced to slash the initial wave of iPhone 14 production from major supplier TSMC by 10%, respected Apple analyst and insider Ming-Chi Kuo has revealed that production for the new range remains largely on track.
“Rumored TSMC’s iPhone 14 orders cut by 10% is not aligned with my survey. I currently maintain my 2H22 shipment forecast for iPhone 14, about 100 mn [million] and 90 mn units for components and EMS, respectively.”
This will be critical for Apple given that Kuo believes that demand for the iPhone 14 lineup will be stronger in China than it has been for iPhone 13 models:
“My latest survey indicates that some Chinese distributors/retailers/scalpers have to pay the highest prepaid deposit ever for iPhone 14 to ensure a sufficient supply… At present, in the Chinese market, the iPhone 14 prepaid deposit is significantly higher than the iPhone 13 and even twice as high in some areas.”
What is driving this demand, given the historically minor upgrades coming to standard iPhone 14, remains to be seen. But leaks will accelerate now mass production has begun. Meanwhile, any potential iPhone 13 upgraders would now be wise to wait until the iPhone 14 models launch in September.
07/05 Update: new light has been shone on what has arguably become one of the iPhone’s most controversal components: its 5G modem.
After multiple high profile litigation lawsuits between Apple and its primary supplier Qualcomm, the two companies signed a six-year licensing agreement in 2019. Apple also bought Intel’s smartphone modem business with the aim of phasing out Qualcomm modems over the next few years. Since then, every iPhone has been rumored to debut Apple’s first in-house 5G modem.
The iPhone 14 has been no different until a head-turning report from Ming-Chi Kuo last week that development of the modem “may have failed” with Apple forced to rely on Qualcomm for the foreseeable future.
That has now been shot down via a source shared by ShrimpApplePro (the anonymous account known for its accuracy). The source described themselves as “speechless” at the reports of failure, explaining that “[Apple] just postponed the mass production time from the original second quarter of 2023 to the fourth quarter of 2023.”
The source also shared that Apple is developing the modem (including the radio frequency module and PMIC – power management integrated circuit) under the codename ‘Ibiza’.
If correct, the long and short of this is that while we can forget about an Apple modem in the iPhone 14 lineup, the hardware does look set to appear in 2023 iPhone 15 models. This would almost certainly be a phased introduction with Apple highly unlikely to be able to produce gen-one chips to the necessary scale (nor would it be desireable given the potential for bugs).
That said, history shows that the more Apple controls of its hardware, the closer it can integrate silicon and software and the better the user experience. Apple will be unable to differentiate the performance of its early modems from Qualcomm modules (to ensure consistency of user experience), but Apple fans can expect to see significant benefits once the company takes full control.
And from there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple get back into the home networking market with additional performance and functionality coming when iPhones, iPads, Macs and smart home devices are connected to Apple routers. This really is just the beginning.
Beyond this, the name ‘Max’ is also problematic. A max-version of any device implies that it is the best of something ahead of its physical size, hence phrases like ‘to the max’. The connotations around ‘plus’ are not so extreme, ‘plus size’ is a long-standing association and the word implies ‘more’ rather than best. This would be a better fit, given standard iPhone 14 models will miss out on most major iPhone 14 Pro upgrades.
Apple’s most recent branding also shows a desire to keep Max reserved for premium hardware. In ascending order, the M1 (and soon M2) range is comprised of:
- M1 Pro
- M1 Max
- M1 Ultra
Max sits above Pro. Yes, Apple’s branding has long been criticised for creating confusion (look no further than the ‘Apple Watch Edition‘), but releasing an iPhone 14 Max which is cheaper and slower than an iPhone 14 Pro would be bizarre even by Apple’s standards.
Adding further weight to Hsieh’s language is the detail of Omdia’s report, which breaks down iPhone component suppliers, supply distribution and order volumes for the next two years. Going against this is the sheer number of high-profile leakers who have been talking about an iPhone 14 Max for months. It would be a surprise for them to be wrong this close to launch, but certainly not unprecedented.
Yes, there are bigger questions surrounding the iPhone 14 lineup — including their eye-opening battery capacities, camera differences and generational chipset gap — but for Apple, getting the messaging right around these phones is critical. And that all starts with a name.
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