08/04 Update below. This post was originally published on August 1
The release of Apple’s iPhone 15 series is getting closer, but a new report has revealed that the journey to September’s expected launch date is not going smoothly. And it is Apple’s flagship iPhone 15 which has been hit hardest.
According to The Elec, both LG Display and BOE have yet to gain Apple’s approval to produce screens for the iPhone 15 Pro Max after running into a number of manufacturing problems, which are expected to see availability of the model severely restricted at launch.
The cause of the issues is said to be the record-breaking new slim bezels for both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, with supply for the latter’s exclusive new periscope camera also compounding the situation. There are also production issues with the new 48-megapixel cameras on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. Both LG Display and BOE are struggling to add Dynamic Island cutouts to the displays, while Sony and LG Innotek have suffered yield issues producing the 48MP and periscope cameras, respectively.
In response, Apple is said to have focused production on the iPhone 15 Pro in an attempt to still create a 50/50 balance of Pro and non-Pro models. Last year iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models heavily outsold the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus at launch, though significant price rises for the iPhone 15 Pros may curtail that this time around.
When will the production issues be resolved? According to The Elec camera yields are slowly improving and Apple has asked Samsung to try and cover the panel shortages from LG Display and BOE, with the latter not expected to fix its problems until 2024. Despite this, Apple is still expected to announce all iPhone 15 models in September, though insiders are split over whether they will not go on sale until Q4.
For those upgraders who are prepared to wait/reserve early, they will get iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models that closely resemble the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max with Dynamic Island designs, A16 chipsets, and a 48-megapixel primary camera.
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max buyers will receive more upgrades, thanks to their troublesome yet eye-catching super slim bezels, next-gen 3nm A17 chipsets, titanium chassis, new solid-state Action button and upgraded UWB. All iPhone 15 models will also move from Lightning to USB-C and feature smarter, cooler stacked battery technology.
08/03 Update: further surprising revelations about the iPhone 15 launch have been revealed by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Writing on his blog, Kuo states that according to his shipment forecasts, “demand for iPhone 15 [range] is lower than that of iPhone 14.”
This is significant because shipments of the iPhone 14 were curtailed by the shutdown of major Apple supplier Hon Hai’s Zhengzhou factory in November 2022. So if iPhone 15 shipment forecasts are lower than these constrained numbers, Apple has a problem on its hands.
Kuo builds on this as well, saying:
“2H23 shipment forecasts for Apple’s hardware products in 2H23 are almost universally weaker in 2H23 than in 2H22. Therefore, unless Apple clearly indicates that it’s positive about market demand in 2H23 or 2024, this financial report is unlikely to be a positive for most suppliers’ stock prices.”
Due to manufacturing issues around the iPhone 15 Pro Max, I still expect the supply of that model to be extremely limited at launch. That said, after a series of iterative iPhone upgrades, Apple may need to do more in 2024 to reinvigorate customer interest.
08/04 Update: Whether or not sales of the iPhone 15 range will be delayed, it looks like Apple has given the green light for its usual September launch event. 9to5Mac reports:
“Multiple sources familiar with the matter told 9to5Mac that mobile carriers have been asking employees not to take days off on September 13 due to a major smartphone announcement.”
While this isn’t a smoking gun, there is a history of mobile carriers making these announcements on dates that have turned out to be iPhone launches. As for the day itself, a Wednesday, it may signal a shift from Apple. Previously the company has preferred Tuesdays for its iPhone launches, but the iPhone 14 lineup broke that rule last year when it was announced on Wednesday, September 7.
Based on previous release schedules, 9to5Mac speculates that a September 13 launch would mean pre-orders open September 15, with shipments beginning September 22. Whether that is for all iPhone 15 models remains to be seen, given the production issues surrounding the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Apple has precedent here, most notably with the iPhone X, which launched alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8S on August 31, 2017, but wasn’t available for pre-order until October 27, finally going on sale November 3.
My two cents? I suspect all iPhone 15 models will go on sale simultaneously but with very limited iPhone 15 Pro Max stock. So if that is the model you want, my advice is to move fast.
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