The next major iPhone release will certainly be one of the most anticipated events in the global consumer electronics market in the second half of 2017. TrendForce’s recent findings on the 10th anniversary iPhone release reveal that Apple’s latest refresh of the device series will include three new models, with one of them having significant hardware and design upgrades such as an AMOLED display.
TrendForce estimates that the production volume of the next iPhone devices for this year will reach at least 100 million units, of which the model with the AMOLED display will make up the greatest share. The production volume of all iPhone devices for 2017 is projected to total around 230 million units, representing an annual increase of almost 6%.
Next high-end iPhone will be the first in the series to feature AMOLED display in addition to other major design changes
Based on the information from the supply chain, one of the three new iPhone devices that will be released in this year’s second half will be a top-of-line model with standout features. This high-end iPhone will be the first in the device series to have an AMOLED display that is 5.8 inches in size and 2K in resolution. However, Apple will not implement the curved display design for the high-end iPhone because there are issues with the 3D glass in terms of production yield and drop test results. Thus, the next high-end iPhone is expected to have the same 2.5D glass for display cover as the current models.
Another standout feature for the next high-end iPhone will be the removal of the physical home button as the related functions will be integrated into the display. The disappearance of the home button will make the device more compact without sacrificing the display area. Therefore, the display aspect ratio of the next high-end iPhone could exceed 2:1, while the phone’s overall body size could be similar to that of the next 4.7-inch model.
With regard to memory and storage specifications, the next high-end iPhone will carry 3GB of mobile DRAM and comes with two storage options: the 64GB and the 256GB.
3D Sensing to expand iPhone’s applications in biometric recognition and AR
TrendForce also expects the next high-end iPhone to incorporate the 3D Sensing technology that can be used to provide facial recognition and features related to augmented reality (AR).
The other two upcoming iPhone models are sized 5.5 and 4.7 inches, respectively. In contrast with the high-end counterpart, both will retain LCD for their displays. In terms of memory specifications, the 5.5-inch model will have 3GB while the 4.7-inch model will have 2GB. As for storage options, both the 5.5- and the 4.7-inch models are expected to include the maximum option of 256GB.
From the pricing angle, Apple will likely make significant differentiation between the 4.7-inch model and the other two models. Due to the increasing level of competition in the global smartphone market, Apple is expanding its iPhone lineup in order to cater to different groups of consumers.
The high-end AMOLED model will be the main iPhone sales driver for this year
The AMOLED model will be leading the charge in this year’s iPhone sales. Furthermore, it will account for at least 40% of the total production volume of all the next-generation iPhone devices for 2017, according to TrendForce’s projection.
Furthermore, the significant innovations in the latest iPhone refresh are designed to attract the large group consumers who have bought iPhones but yet to replace them since iPhone 6. Therefore, the 10th anniversary release is expected to trigger a huge wave of replacement demand. At the same time, Apple will likely set a very high price point for the AMOLED model in order to offset the costs of the display and other components. There is the possibility that the price of the AMOLED model could go up to US$1,000 or even higher. By contrast, the next 4.7-inch iPhone will be more economically priced as it will be competing against Chinese brands in regional markets where they have been successful, including their home turf.
TrendForce adds that most of the global production capacity for AMOLED smartphone panels will be used to fulfill orders from Samsung and Apple this year. Other smartphone brands such as Huawei and OPPO are going to have difficulty in securing enough AMOLED panels to expand production and shipments of their high-end devices. The lack of AMOLED panel supply in turn could be a factor in preventing some Chinese brands from achieving the same kind of exceptional shipment growth as in last year.
On the whole, TrendForce believes that Apple will boost iPhone sales this year with the combination of the three new models. However, whether this strategy will bring Apple a large revenue growth from iPhone sales remains to be seen.