iPhone 15 Pro renders based on its new leaked dark red finish
07/27 Update below. This post was originally published on July 24
Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 15 series launch is likely to be delayed into October, pushing the smartphones beyond their typical early September timeframe, according to an industry insider with a rock-solid track record. A further leak may also have revealed Why.
In a research note shared with Barrons, Wamsi Mohan, a global securities analyst at Bank of America, revealed that after conducting channel checks in Apple’s supply chain, he expects the iPhone 15 release date to be in the fourth quarter, spanning from October to December.
Mohan is known for accurately predicting the iPhone 12 delay in 2020, and this latest report is significantly more of a shock, given the former was widely (and predictably) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, Mohan did not provide a reason for the delay, but a potential explanation was revealed on the same day by The Information, a consistently reliable source of Apple leaks for several years. According to The Information, the problem primarily affects the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which use a new manufacturing process from LG to create super slim new bezels.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro concept render based on leaks
The report says LG displays are failing reliability tests at the point where the display is fused to the chassis, which has forced Apple to change the design. The Information claims that Apple has displays from Samsung which do pass the tests, but they are not available in sufficient numbers, which will result in stock shortages at launch.
Where the two reports differ, however, is The Information believes the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max launches will still go ahead on time, albeit with limited stock. In contrast, Mohan has already revised his projections for Apple’s September quarter based on the whole range being delayed. The analyst projects Apple will see a $4,5BN revenue drop ($87.1BN from $91.6BN) just from these missing iPhone 15 sale weeks.
In isolation, late iPhone arrivals are not uncommon. In addition to the iPhone 12 delay, the iPhone 14 Plus was also hit by pandemic lockdowns in China, and the iPhone X was delayed two months as Apple switched to its all-new design in 2017. That said, neither was disrupted due to a single design element, the kind of flaw which is usually ironed out in early manufacturing runs.
Such a delay is unlikely to dissuade eager upgraders, but it will inevitably cause long backorders up to Christmas and into the new year.
Rounding up the leaks, iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max buyers will get more improvements with a next-gen 3nm A17 chipset, titanium chassis, solid-state Action button and upgraded UWB, in addition to those super slim bezels. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will largely copy the design and spec sheet of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the whole range will swap Lightning for USB-C.
And yes, everyone is likely to pay a little more for these new iPhones.
07/26 Update: iPhone 15 upgraders may be able to breathe a little easier today. A new report from Display Supply Chain Consultants claims the concerns around the LG Display-made screens for the range have been solved.
Moreover, the report drills down into the issue itself, explaining that LG Display ran into problems making the OLED cutouts for the iPhone 15 front camera and Face ID components. The cutouts were causing dark spots to appear in the glass, which DSCC says LG Display fixed by building what is described as a “dam” around the cutout.
It is worth noting that DSCC is headed up by Ross Young, who has arguably the most reliable track record of any Apple industry insider in recent years. So this gives the report a lot of credibility.
That said, there is still scope for delays given that this manufacturing flaw was first surfaced by The Information, which claimed it would not delay the launch of the phones. In contrast, Wamsi Mohan’s report did not state specific causes for the delay he reports, instead citing broader channel checks in Apple’s supply chain.
Who is right remains to be seen, but with stock of new iPhones often constrained at launch coupled with these reports of supply chain and manufacturing issues, I would be surprised if there are not similar (and possibly more severe) issues this year. My advice: if you want an iPhone 15, order one the moment they go on sale.
07/27 Update: more iPhone 15 good news courtesy of respected Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo. Writing on his blog, Kuo has backed recent leaks that Apple will introduce a new 48-megapixel primary camera for both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.
Kuo states that the primary obstacle to the upgrade was a yield issue with the new camera’s CMOS image sensor (CIS). Speaking with Apple’s supply chain partners, Kuo has learned that the component has the green light after Sony, the main supplier of the new sensors, managed to more than double production capacity.
And the upgrade is big news for iPhone 15 buyers. Last year’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus used a 12-megapixel primary sensor, and although megapixels are far from the biggest factor in photo quality, what the new sensor will do in comparison is massively improve the quality of zoomed photos.
While both standard iPhone 15 models will again lack a dedicated zoom lens, the new 48-megapixel primary camera will record significantly more information, allowing Apple to crop into the photo and retain more detail. No, this upgrade won’t replace a dedicated zoom lens, but it’s a big step up, given Apple has shown no interest in bringing optical zoom photography to standard iPhone models.
Moreover, Kuo’s report backs the findings of Hong Kong-based analyst Jeff Pu, an increasingly influential voice, who first claimed Apple was working to bring a new 48-megapixel sensor to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus in May.
Last year’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus were notable for their low sales volumes compared to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, but bit-by-bit Apple looks set to redress the balance this year. Especially with growing reports of major price rises for iPhone 15 Pro models.
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