Reports: A8 won’t feature integrated LTE yet, low yield rates pushing Samsung out of the process?

Image via iFixit

Two new reports out today are offering a bit of early insight into what to expect from Apple’s next A-series SoC, or system on a chip, that powers its iPhone and iPad devices.

The first tidbit from Fudzilla says Apple will once again rely on Qualcomm for LTE chips in the next round of iOS devices rather than an A8 chip with LTE integrated. So what does this mean? It’s probably safe to assume Apple will save a SoC which includes the LTE modem in a future iteration.

Generally, the fewer chips required in a mobile device, the better optimized for battery life the device is. Apple, of course, must strive to engineer battery life parity, if not improvements, as our devices get more powerful each generation.

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The second bit of information once again suggests Samsung will not be involved in Apple’s system on a chip production, but not for the reasons you might suspect. Rather than parting ways due to political differences, production deficiencies on Samsung’s part could position TSMC as the only partner in manufacturing the A8, according to a report.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo released his report last week predicting Apple will replace the iPad 2 with the iPad 4, update the iPad Air with Touch ID, and keep the current A7-powered iPad mini with Retina display around for another year.

If Kuo’s predictions are on point, the A8 news could only apply to an updated iPhone and full size iPad this year.

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  1. When are you “journalists” going to cover the issues with the faulty speakers that affect 100% of all iPad Mini Retinas?

    • Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

      What a ridiculous comment.

      As an owner of a mini retina with absolutely no speaker problems at all, I easily refute your claim merely by my existence

      • Tim Jr. - 9 years ago

        Same! lol.. apparently Mr. Israel is in alternate universe where 100% means something else. heh

        Maybe he’s cross posted into another dimension and didn’t know it.. Someone call Dr. Who!!

    • deodito villaver - 9 years ago

      100 %? I bought 2 iPad mini retinas with no issues at all. Maybe .001%?

    • Leon Kernan - 9 years ago

      What problem, my Retina Mini sounds great?

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      The same day you disgusting, pathetic trolls stop lying and making fools of yourselves.

    • Clint (@ClintAustin26) - 9 years ago

      No problems on my retina iPad mini. Maybe you mean 100% of the retina minis YOU purchased, which I’m guessing is 1.

    • icaledonia - 9 years ago

      Two iPad Mini Retina’s in my household and both are 100% fine, perhaps Israel is one of the 3 😋

      4 out if 3 people have trouble with math

  2. pucagaeilge - 9 years ago

    That makes sense, as these new chips will be hard to crank out in huge volumes right away, so leaving the iPad mini on the A7 means that many millions fewer A8 chips that TSMC will have to make.

    It also differentiates the iPad Air from the iPad mini better. And since the mini is more a consumer device, while the iPad Air is better for productivity apps, it positions Apple to maintain the Air’s price and maybe discount the mini in the fall to $349 to boost its sales (or leave it at $399 to keep higher margins).

    • rogifan - 9 years ago

      So why did Apple make a point of having screen size be the only differentiator if they’re going to do a 180 on it a year later?

      • pucagaeilge - 9 years ago

        Every app launch and pricing decision is an opportunity to learn about your customer base. Maybe the sales results suggest that’s not a smart way to differentiate? Maybe it reduces their margins too much? I don’t pretend to know the answer.

        It’s just anecdotal evidence from my friends and clients, but the mini isn’t making inroads as a productivity device, even though there’s no technical reason it can’t. Maybe Apple is dialing back the mini’s performance because it’s more often used as a web browsing, reading, movies, and social media device? Then leading with a more powerful and expensive Air as their enterprise and PC-replacement device?

      • @pucagaeilge

        Your last paragraph makes sense. I see the iPad mini (mini tablets in general) stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one side, I see it eventually being cannibalized by phablets, for those who use it as a consumption device, and on the other side by larger tablets, for those looking for a more productivity-oriented tablet.

        And that’s not because the iPad mini retina can’t be used as productivity tool, it’s just that having the bigger screen of the iPad Air lends itself to having a better user experience for those specific tasks.

      • pucagaeilge - 9 years ago

        Because they were wrong? I mean, Apple does make mistakes.

        Or maybe they had a better idea, or market conditions changed.

    • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

      I don’t quite get that. In the second half of 2014, the iPad mini w/ Retina Display will more than likely account for fewer shipments than the iPad Air, and fewer shipments than the iPhone 6. Both of those devices would be expected to feature the A8 processor, at the very least. Combined, we’re talking numbers over or close to 100 million A8 chips sold in 2014?

      So what’s a few more at that point? Or is that exactly the point…they will be stretched to the gills to provide enough chips for flagship products, let alone the secondary iPad mini and iPhone 6C?

      • pucagaeilge - 9 years ago

        Yep, you got it. Apple always seems to be pushing at the limits, so every little bit helps.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      >> even though there’s no technical reason it can’t.

      The screen is unusably small, and has always been unusably small. There’s your reason. Always been the reason.

  3. As I see it, Apple is going to wait until they have their SoC with LTE integrated before going through the hassle of launching newer versions of the same devices. Why bother putting an A8 into the iPad mini this year, when a large improvement that has the potential to significantly extend battery life is just around the bend. Of course, their flagship devices – iPhone and full-sized iPad need to be updated every year. It’s expected. It keeps the devices relevant. It stops them from becoming outdated – and it’s a huge revenue source for them. Apple is going to re-position their line-up over the next two years. They’re saying good-bye to old technology like the non-retina displays and 30-pin connectors. In three years, I think they’ll have all of their devices on the SoC with LTE – because they need to move away from the outdated technology that is holding their image back. (See: Apple can’t innovate anymore) This is why they are moving from the iPad 2 to the 4 as they’re cheaper model. This is why, I think they’ll stop selling the iPad Mini (without retina) next year. Then the iPad Mini with Retina will fall in price by $100 – putting it at the same price point as the current non-retina model. I think they’ll wait and see if the iPad 4 can increase sales in that cheaper iPad slot, if not they could do away with it and put all of their eggs in the iPad Mini basket. The price reduction will aid in the explosion of the device being used – new customers will get if for surfing the web, and then they’ll realize the devices potential and will start to use it in new ways. The Mini will have previous generation iPad Air specs. I see the Mini as always being one step behind. In the same way the iPhone 5C should have been, and the same way I see the smaller of the two rumoured iPhone sizes being. Flagship device and then Second place Clone – older tech with the trade off of being cheaper. Now, this second place clone group of products is on shaky ground. If you look at their Macs, they have cheaper models and very expensive ones too. However, they didn’t make the MacBook Air a cheap knock off of the MacBook Pro – nor did they take the older MacBook Pro model and slap a new sticker on it. Which is what they’re doing with the iOS line up. Yes, within the MacBook Pro line up you have different screen sizes and different models within the sizing differences – but you have different sized iPads and storage options, don’t you? (And I see the previous generation MacBook Pro that’s still available going away asap) Point being that I think they’ll trim the fat, and get rid of these older models – the Second place Clones. They’re not what people want, they’re the product people settle for and they never perform as well as the Flagships. The Mini will still be around for those who want something uber portable – like the MacBook Air – but it’ll also double as the cheaper little sister of the higher spec’d older brother. (iPad Air is to iPad Mini as MacBook Pro is to MacBook Air)

  4. Gary Frost - 9 years ago

    I doubt that the suggestion really is the only reason that LTE on the A8 is SoC yields. A new antenna technology would be a better option because of its design it can continue to optimize signal acquisition and transmission. This tech would reduce radio power requirements and be able support new technologies with only program changes. Think of it as a production antenna FPGA for radio. The issue would be the cost, but in the volumes Apple uses that may not be an issue.

  5. Richard Getz (@RichGetz) - 9 years ago

    Let’s not forget space and assembly. The more features you can put on fewer chips the easier and quicker the assembly becomes. Also, this makes the logic board smaller so more size for larger batteries.

  6. Whoa! Who in the heck wants the LTE integrated in A8? Sorry, I want precious space for expanding GPGPU power, 64bit extensions and much more. The Radio can stay right where it belongs: on the outside.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.