07/05 update below. This post was originally published on July 2nd
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 has been overlooked: a new name.
In September, Apple is expected to announce a cheaper version of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which has been commonly referred to as the “iPhone 14 Max”. However, a detailed supply chain report by analyst Omdia uses a far more logical name.
Breaking with the previous leaks, David Hsieh, senior research director at Omdia, refers to the new device (and iPhone 13 Mini replacement) as the “iPhone 14 Plus”. That makes a lot of sense. It harks back to Apple’s previous branding for its largest phones, creating a stronger demarcation between two 6.7-inch models.
07/04 update: More supply chain information has been leaked surrounding Apple’s iPhone 14 release plans. Contrary to a previous report Digitimeswhich claimed Apple was forced to cut key supplier TSMC’s initial wave of iPhone 14 production by 10%, respected Apple analyst and insider Ming Chi Kuo has revealed that production for the new range remains largely on track.
“TSMC’s alleged 10% off iPhone 14 orders don’t match my survey. I’m currently maintaining my iPhone 14 shipping forecast for 2H22, around 100M [million] and 90 million units for components and EMS, respectively.”
This will be crucial for Apple as Kuo believes demand for the iPhone 14 range will increase stronger in China than the iPhone 13 models:
“My latest survey shows that some Chinese distributors/retailers/scalpers need to make the highest iPhone 14 prepaid deposit ever to ensure adequate supply… Currently, the iPhone 14 prepaid deposit in the Chinese market is significant higher than the iPhone 13 and sometimes even twice as high.”
What is driving this demand given the historically minor upgrades comes to the standard iPhone 14 remains to be seen. But leaks will accelerate after mass production begins. In the meantime, any potential iPhone 13 upgrades should now wait until the iPhone 14 models launch in September.
07/05 Update: New light has been shed on what has arguably become one of the most controversial components of the iPhone: the 5G modem.
After several high-profile legal battles between Apple and its main supplier Qualcomm, the two companies signed one six-year license agreement in 2019. Apple also bought Intel’s smartphone modem business with a goal of phasing out Qualcomm modems over the next few years. Since then, every iPhone has been rumored to debut Apple’s first internal 5G modem.
The iPhone 14 was no different until last week when Ming-Chi Kuo published a sensational report on the development of the modem.may have failed‘, with Apple being forced to rely on Qualcomm for the foreseeable future.
This has now been shot down via a source shared by ShrimpApplePro (the anonymous account known for its accuracy). The source described himself as “speechless” at the reports of the failure, explaining that “[Apple] have merely shifted 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 the PMIC – Power Management Integrated Circuit) under the codename “Ibiza”.
If that’s true, the long and short of it is that while we can forget about an Apple modem in the iPhone 14 range, the hardware is likely to appear in the 2023 iPhone 15 models. This would almost certainly be a gradual roll-out, one in which Apple is highly unlikely to be able to produce Gen One chips at the scale required (nor would it be desirable given the potential for bugs).
However, history shows that the more Apple controls its hardware, the tighter silicon and software can be integrated and the better the user experience. Apple won’t be able to differentiate the performance of its early modems from Qualcomm modules (to ensure a consistent user experience), but Apple fans can expect significant benefits once the company takes full control.
And from there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple re-enter the home networking market with added power and functionality by connecting iPhones, iPads, Macs, and smart home devices with Apple routers. This is really just the beginning.
In addition, the name “Max” is also problematic. A max version of a device implies that it is the best of something in advance of its physical size, hence expressions like “to the max”. The connotations surrounding “plus” aren’t that extreme, “plus size” is a longstanding association and the word implies “more” rather than “best”. This would be a better fit as standard iPhone 14 models miss out on most of the major iPhone 14 Pro upgrades.
Apple’s recent branding also shows a desire to keep Max reserved for premium hardware. In ascending order, the M1 (and soon M2) range includes:
- M1 Pro
- M1 max
- M1 Ultra
Max sits above Pro. Yes, Apple’s branding has long been criticized for causing confusion (look no further than the “Apple Watch Edition”), but releasing an iPhone 14 Max that’s cheaper and slower than an iPhone 14 Pro would be itself bizarre 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 volume for the next two years. This contrasts with 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 so close to launch, but certainly not unprecedented.
Yes, there are bigger questions surrounding the iPhone 14 line – including their startling battery capacities, camera differences and generational chipset gaps – but getting the messages around these phones right is crucial for Apple. And it all starts with a name.
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