For fall 2015, Apple is preparing an “S” iPhone upgrade that superficially preserves the exterior designs of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but includes a collection of major internal changes. In May, we reported that this new “iPhone 6S” line would debut this fall with a Force Touch, pressure-sensitive display as one of its marquee features. Now, a proven source familiar with Apple’s supply chain has provided us with the most extensive look yet at Apple’s next iPhone, sharing the first photos of the iPhone 6S’s external metal casing, plus an in-depth look at the new iPhone’s internals. Today, we’re focusing on the exterior of the next iPhone, which appears to refute a number of potential changes that some have speculated were destined for this model.
Apple has yet to provide a specific launch date for the Apple Watch, leaving its early 2015 timeframe and internal memo revealing a spring launch after Chinese New Year as the only information to go by in terms of a release date. A new report by Taiwan-based DigiTimes, however, suggests that the Apple Watch could launch sooner rather than later next year. Read more
A new report by Digitimes says that, contrary to public opinion, the iPhone 6 Plus is receiving more orders after beating initial demand expectations. The report says 60% of iPhone production is iPhone 6 Plus units, which may be interpreted as the iPhone 6 Plus being the more popular model. It also says that Foxconn is responsible for iPhone 6 Plus supply, whereas Pegatron is taking up iPhone 6 output.
However, Digitimes doesn’t have the best track record and this information sort of defies other evidence. Firstly, it is important to note that production does not correlate proportionally to demand. It was well publicised that the iPhone 6 Plus was supply-constrained in the runup to release. The burst of iPhone 6 Plus production now may simply be restoring the balance, clearing the backlog of orders.
Apple has already previewed the Apple Watch at this month’s iPhone event and the unreleased wearable is currently on display in Paris’s Collette, but Apple hasn’t shared specific availability details for the Apple Watch beyond saying ‘early 2015′. A rumor from the Asian supply chain shared by Apple Daily (via GforGames) claims Quanta Computer out of Taiwan will kick off mass production for the Watch for Apple in January 2015… Read more
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has told its suppliers to prepare to build a record number of next-gen iPhones. According to the Journal, Apple is looking to produce 70-80 million units by December 30th. As reported earlier this month, both the 4.7-inch and the larger 5.5-inch models of the upcoming iPhone are expected to enter mass production in the coming weeks.
This is a big jump from the previous iPhone models. Last year the company only ordered 50-60 million of the iPhone 5s and 5c. Manufacturing parter Foxconn recently hired as many as 100,000 new workers to help meet the increased demand, and even ordered a custom line of robotic equipment to facilitate the production of iPhone 6.
Last year, Apple and GT Advanced struck a deal to open and operate a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona related to sapphire crystal components.
Earlier this year, we learned that Apple is “aggressively” pushing to make the facility operational by February 2014 and that the building would produce a “critical” and “new” sub-component for future Apple devices. Due to the vagueness and secrecy surrounding Apple and GT Advanced’s plans, there has been little to no confirmation regarding what exactly the partnership will yield for future Apple products.
But, thanks to new documents and information that we have uncovered with help of analyst Matt Margolis, we have a clearer picture of Apple’s plans…
Update: While it’s hard to read too much into these reports, Foxconn told The Wall Street Journal the freeze on hiring is a result of “a high employee return rate following the Lunar New Year holiday.”
According to the report from Financial Times, Apple’s major assembly partner Foxconn has halted new hiring at its facilities due to a slow down in production for the iPhone 5:
The suspension in hiring by China’s largest private sector employer and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first such countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, which has put pressure on the US company’s battered share price.
Foxconn confirmed it is not currently hiring in its plants located in mainland China, and FT reported the company’s employees were informed that hiring would stop until at least the end of March “in response to reduced orders for the iPhone 5.” While the iPhone 5 doesn’t seem to be experiencing a slow down, according to the latest numbers from Strategy Analytics, the March time frame would line up nicely with rumors of iPhone 5S production beginning in March. Many analysts are calling for a June or July launch of the next-generation iPhone, and Apple could begin initial production as early as next month if true. The decreased production at Foxconn is likely thanks to the expected falloff in new sales in the months following the busy holiday season. Less likely is speculation that Apple could be switching manufacturers.
Recruiters in China told FT that Foxconn has stopped hiring specifically for the iPhone and iPad production lines in many of its factories:
With all the controversy surrounding Apple’s supply chains abroad, Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest partners responsible for assembling the majority of its products, has received the brunt of criticisms. We already know what the Taipei-based assembler thought about Mike Daisey’s fabrications of working conditions at Foxconn plants, but today we get another first hand account from an actual Foxconn employee.
A report from China Business News (via MIC Gadget) profiled Foxconn worker and iPad assembler Wang Xiaoqiao (who opted to hide his real name). According to Wang, iPad line workers are beginning to work fewer hours and get more days off as supply meets demand. Wang said iPad production was ramped up in March, bringing assembly time from 10 hours a day down to 8 hours. However, he is not happy about working less. Wang explained: