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Report: New ultra-thin MacBooks coming later in 2016, featuring new metal-injection molded hinges

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Although it seems inevitable that the MacBook lineup will see some significant changes this year, as a major upgrade has been due for a while, the rumor mill is yet to close in one particular design or release date. Earlier in the year, Digitimes was reporting new MacBooks (intended to supplant the MacBook Air) are due sometime before July, resembling 13 inch and 15 inch versions of the 12 inch Retina MacBook.

A new report from Digitimes today says otherwise, suggesting the new MacBooks will not be available until the second half of this year, although an announcement at WWDC still seems possible if Apple met the earlier side of that release range.



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Digitimes forecast says iPad sales could fall to a record low this quarter, dropping 20% year-on-year

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Digitimes Research has predicted that iPad sales could fall this quarter to their lowest level since 2011.

Apple is expected to ship 9.8 million iPads in the first quarter of 2016, historically its lowest quarterly level, with decreases of 39.1% on quarter and nearly 20% on year.

There are a couple of issues with the forecast – the first being the patchy track-record of the source, and the second being that the ‘historic low’ claim isn’t quite accurate if you include the first year or so, as the above graph from Statista shows.

But the graph does show something else …



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Digitimes: Wistron joining Foxconn for iPhone 5se production, dual suppliers for iPhone 7 models to lower risk

FILE-In this Wednesday, May 26, 2010, file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in Shenzhen, China. Foxconn, the company that makes Apple’s iPhones suspended production at a factory in China on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, after a brawl by as many as 2,000 employees at a dormitory injured 40 people. The fight, the cause of which was under investigation, erupted Sunday night at a privately managed dormitory near a Foxconn Technology Group factory in the northern city of Taiyuan, the company and Chinese police said.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

9to5Mac most recently reported Apple is planning to launch its new addition to the iPhone lineup on March 18th, a 4-inch ‘iPhone 5se’. Foxconn is leading production of the phone, as it does with most iPhone units. Digitimes is reporting that Apple is adding a new supplier to the mix to aid supply: Wistron.

Naturally, Wistron declined comment as 4-inch iPhone production is still a supposed secret. According to Digitimes, Apple is aiming to lower supply channel yield risks by contracting with multiple suppliers for iPhone models. This strategy will continue with iPhone 7 ….



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Opinion: Apple rumors can be valuable forecasts of future trends, even if they’re imprecise

Theo Levey's early iPhone 6 render wasn't perfect, but it was usefully close

Theo Levey’s early iPhone 6 render wasn’t perfect, but it was usefully close

Reporting on future Apple products isn’t easy — it’s actually one of the biggest challenges in the world of technology journalism. Back in April 2011, The Verge’s predecessor (This Is My Next) ran a much-discussed report on the “iPhone 5,” which was claimed to be teardrop-shaped, with an enlarged, gesture-sensitive Home Button, and a bezel-less 3.7″ screen. NFC, inductive charging, and a speaker and sensors hidden behind the screen were also said to be possibilities for the new iPhone. Not surprisingly, the report lit up the Internet, generating a lot of attention (and over 500 comments) for a fledgling web site. Though some people were skeptical, accessory makers actually took the report seriously enough to manufacture cases matching the claims.

As it turned out, the report was wrong — very wrong. Exactly none of those features actually arrived in either the “iPhone 4S” Apple announced in October 2011, or the real “iPhone 5” that debuted in September 2012. The report also didn’t forecast actual iPhone design trends in any useful way. From my standpoint, that’s the critical difference between most Apple rumors and the ones that are actually worth caring about: some early information, even if it’s imprecise, can help you make a better buying decision about an Apple product today or six months down the line.

A small group of nitpickers — notably including people who are fed information directly by Apple, off-the-record — have been taking shots at people who report independently-researched rumors, attempting to undermine the value of big, “not from Apple” scoops versus small, “not (officially) from Apple” tidbits. This may be an inside baseball topic that most people really don’t care about, but it’s worth at least considering for a moment…



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Digitimes still thinks the Retina MacBook Air is coming tomorrow, says Apple logos going 3D

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Digitimes still seems to think the long-rumored 12-inch Retina MacBook Air is going to be announced tomorrow, claiming that shipments have already begun.

Shipments of a new MacBook Air model, reportedly equipped with a 12-inch Retina screen, have begun in small volumes and large-volume shipments will begin in November, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

The claim seems highly unlikely given that just two days ago Re/code cited Apple sources as specifically stating that, while the product was in the pipeline, it would not be shown at tomorrow’s event … 

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Digitimes says iPhone 6 Plus accounting for 60% of iPhone 6 shipments, but usage stats suggest otherwise

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 11.01.28

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.



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Supply-chain report claims Apple rejected Samsung displays for Apple Watch

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DigiTimes report is claiming that Apple has rejected Samsung as a supplier of displays for the Apple Watch, and that all of them will be made by LG.

LG Display will supply Apple AMOLED panels for the Apple Watch, with shipments expected to reach about five million a month in 2015, according to sources at LG Display.

The company had been expected to split display production between the two companies, and the usual caution needs to be applied to DigiTimes stories, which rely on anonymous supply-chain sources.

The report claims Apple is hoping to sell upwards of 50 million smartwatches in 2015. Analyst estimates for sales of the Apple Watch range from 10M to 37M.

Apple has not yet given a launch date for the new device, stating only that it will go on sale “early next year.” The entry-level model will cost $349, but Apple has not revealed pricing for more expensive models. The top-of-the-range Edition models featuring solid gold cases are expected to go well into four figures.

Apple Watches will contain NFC chips that allow them to be used for mobile payment via Apple Pay with older iPhones. You’ll need to authorize the watch when you first put it on in the morning, and it will then remain validated for payment for as long as it remains in constant contact with your wrist.

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Sketchy supply-chain report says production gearing-up for 80M iPhone 6 sales this year

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DigiTimes is citing supply-chain sources as stating that Apple is gearing-up its iPhone 6 production plans for an anticipated 80 million sales by year-end. If achieved, it would represent 33 percent year-on-year growth.

Makers in the iPhone supply chain are preparing parts and components for production of up to 80 million units of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus before year-end 2014, according to sources at Taiwan-based iPhone supply chain.

As ever with DigiTimes, the number should be taken with a large dose of salt: while manufacturers will be aware of their own order-books from Apple, and thus have some degree of insight into the company’s expectations for early sales, it’s a stretch to extrapolate from that to sales targets up to the end of the year.

We won’t have too long to wait for a good indication of how well the new models are selling. They go on sale on Friday 19th, and Apple is expected to issue its usual announcement of opening weekend sales on Monday 22nd September. Last year, Apple announced a record 9M iPhone sales in the first three days.

This year’s opening weekend numbers may take a hit, however, with the New York Times reporting that regulatory problems may mean the new models won’t go on sale in China – a massive market – on 19th September.

Via Business Insider

Digitimes says iPad Air 2 will be ‘thinner’ and have ‘improved fingerprint recognition’

 

Screenshot 2014-09-03 09.43.44

Says Digitimes:

Touch panel makers TPK and GIS are among some of the makers receiving orders from Apple for full-lamination units. Sources said the new model will remain unchanged in terms of size and resolution, but that it will be thinner, equipped with an enhanced processor, and contain improved fingerprint recognition features.

Two problems there (at least).

1) The current batch of physical mockups/leaks indicate that the new iPad Air will look mostly the same as the current version, and that it will be roughly the same thinness. You can tell in the image above that the new model (on the top) is only very slightly skinner.

2) How can the fingerprint sensor be “improved” if it never existed in the first place? Nonetheless, we’re hearing the new model does include a Touch ID sensor, like the iPhone.



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TSMC expected to begin 16nm volume production for Apple’s A9 chip in early 2015

iPhone 6 render

<a href="http://viptest.9to5mac.com/2014/07/03/latest-iphone-6-renders-compare-potential-gold-space-gray-and-silver-colors-gallery/" target="_blank">Latest iPhone 6 render</a>

We’re still just over two weeks away from the anticipated iPhone 6 event reportedly scheduled for September 9th where Apple is expected to debut the next generation of iPhone hardware including a more powerful, efficient A8 system-on-a-chip.

Worry not, though, about the next, next generation iPhone rumors, Apple watchers, as a report from Chinese publication Economic Daily News (via Digitimes) shares that TSMC, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, plans to “advance volume production on its 16nm process” during the beginning of 2015 “with monthly output of 50,000 wafers” to deliver Apple’s A9 system-on-a-chip.

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Unconfirmed reports that Pegatron is making half the 4.7-inch models of the iPhone 6

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Digitimes is reporting that Pegatron is making half of the 4.7-inch model of the iPhone 6, at least for orders placed in 2014. Citing upstream suppliers (those making components for delivery to the assembly plants), it’s rumored that Apple has asked Pegatron to make 25M of its initial order of 50M phones, with primary supplier Foxconn making the rest – along with all of the 5.5-inch models.

Taiwan’s Commercial Times had originally suggested that Pegatron would be receiving only 15 percent of orders, while DigiTimes said back in May that it was 30 percent – the same source that now says 50 percent. If you’re thinking all this suggests they are simply plucking numbers out of the air, you may well be right.

Either way, we’re expecting Apple to finally unveil the long-awaited iPhone 6 on 9th September. Recent claimed leaked parts have shown tapered edges on the display panel and the power button moved from the top to the side of the phone; a raised camera cutout; and a single, circular True Tone flash.

We’ve heard sketchy rumors about the battery capacity, and the same rumors about NFC we hear every year.

Everything we’ve seen does, though, point to a significantly slimmer and more rounded design.

Samsung’s SoC profits down as Apple chooses TSMC for A8, although rumor says it will produce processors for iPhone 7

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Samsung has been having some issues lately, reporting falling profits in the most recent quarter. Although most of this is due to shrinking growth in phone sales, where Apple continues to dominate in terms of profit share, Apple has also affected Samsung’s income from its microprocessor production business. With TSMC having exclusivity over Apple’s A8 production, to be used in the upcoming iPhone 6, Samsung’s outlook for ‘logic chips’ is also gloomy, as The Wall Street Journal highlights in a new report.

Samsung executives admitted on a recent conference call that the outlook isn’t so bright for this business.

“Sales and profitability from System LSI (logic chip business) worsened as demand from main customers continued to decline,” Robert Yi, Samsung’s head of investor relations said last week. His comments confirmed, albeit indirectly, how Apple’s gradual shift away from Samsung as a customer of microprocessors was eating into its profits.



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Spurious claim Apple will release 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones separately ‘to avoid competition’

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Supply-chain rumors are can be unreliable sources at the best of times, but never more so than when they claim to offer insight into Apple’s strategic plans. DigiTimes is claiming that Apple will be launching the 4.7- and 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 6 separately “to avoid competition between the two models.”

The different timetables have been set as Apple does not want to repeat the mistake it made in 2013 when it launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c simultaneously, said the sources.

Let’s take this one step at a time. First, what companies in the supply-chain know are how many orders have been placed with them for specific components. They don’t know what orders Apple may have placed with other suppliers for the same components, and they don’t even necessarily know in which product the parts will be used … 

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Samsung reportedly takes early lead in possible three-way battle to make Apple’s A9 processor

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A report from DigiTimes claims that Samsung has received orders from Apple for chips made using its new 14nm process, with volume production set to ramp up in the course of next year.

The Samsung Electronics and Globalfoundries team reportedly has landed orders for its 14nm FinFET process from Qualcomm and Apple, with related foundry services to begin in early 2015, according to industry sources in Taiwan …



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Rumor: Apple planning to release iWatch in August-September timeframe

 

Concept image: Stephen Olmstead

Concept image: Stephen Olmstead

You can’t get much sketchier than a Chinese Economic Daily report cited by DigiTimes, but the former is citing supply chain sources in claiming that Apple plans to release the iWatch in the third quarter of this year, and that the company expects to ship 65M units this year.

The iWatch will be manufactured by Quanta Computer, while Taiwan-based chip design house Richtek has also entered the supply chain. The device’s touch panel will be supplied by TPK, the paper noted. [With Samsung making the processor to Apple’s design.]

The original story says that suppliers have been asked to meet an August delivery date.

The China Times has previously suggested that TPK would make the touch panel, but this isn’t a particularly notable consistency: the company has in the past been a key panel supplier to Apple, while Quanta is a long-time Mac assembler, mostly in Asia but more recently in the USA also.

Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis, quoted in AppleInsider, is suggesting that the iWatch may include a UV sensor, measuring exposure to sunlight. While Curtis believes that the purpose of the rumored sensor is to prevent excessive exposure to sunlight, it’s possible that for some of us it might be more usefully employed to do the opposite

When is Apple going to release a Retina MacBook Air? More signs point to ‘soon’

macbook-air-sale-discount

Following a forum post from a Chinese website, Digitimes is reporting that Apple will indeed ship a brand new MacBook Air with Retina display in the second half of this year.

The Digitimes article offers no specifics on what the new MacBook Air will feature, aside from the Retina display. A forum poster (who has a track record of accuracy) from last week said that the new model of laptop would feature a fan-less design in an even thinner form factor than the current MacBook Airs’ enclosure.



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Apple reportedly pushing to automate iPhone battery production, reducing reliance on labor

iFixit: iPhone 5s battery

<a href="http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+5s+Teardown/17383">iFixit</a>: iPhone 5s battery

Digitimes is reporting that Apple is looking to transition iPhone battery production from labor-intensive processes to fully-automatic machine production lines in 2014.

Although the reliability of Digitimes’ reporting is often poor, in this case the trustworthiness of the report is much more likely to be solid. Unlike some of their previous stories in recent memory, automating battery production is a direct matter of the supply chain — which is Digitimes’ area of expertise.



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Digitimes likely way off the mark with sapphire production estimates

sapphire

An aftermarket sapphire screen cover.

A report by Digitimes is circulating today which says that Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies can only supply around 9-16% of sapphire supply for Apple’s next generation iPhone due for later in the year. The implication being that Apple would have to rely on external suppliers to make up the difference.

However, this estimate is based off GT’s apparent forecast of between $188 and $348 million from sapphire sales. As $GTAT investor and analyst Matt Margolis notes on his blog, the company has never broken down their revenue figures for sapphire so it’s unclear where Digitimes has sourced this number from.



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RIP Mac optical drives? Rumor suggests Apple to drop last non-Retina MacBook Pro this year

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DigiTimes is claiming that Apple will cease production of the non-Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro this year as it prepares to launch refreshed Retina models toward the end of the year.

Apple is expected to stop production of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014 and will replace the product line with thinner models equipped with a Retina display. Meanwhile, Intel will offer second-generation ultrabooks in the fourth quarter of 2014, pushing the notebook industry further into the ultra-thin era, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers … 

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Sketchy rumor suggests iWatch will have a curved, flexible display; mass production 2nd half of 2014

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An unconfirmed report in China Times claims that Taiwan-based touch panel manufacturer TPK will be making flexible displays for the iWatch, with mass production expected in the second half of the year.

The report said the iWatch will come equipped with a flexible AMOLED display and 3D protective glass. The rumors also speculated that the iWatch will use silver nanowire touch screen technology developed by TPK in conjunction with Japan-based Nissha Printing.

Both the flexible AMOLED and silver nanowire suggest a curved display, but it should be noted that the China Times does not have the best of track records … 

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12.9-inch iPad rumor is back with launch date, early launch for larger size iPhone included

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Mockups: T3

Rumors of a larger iPad have been bouncing around since May (complete with the world’s silliest name). They gained credibility (minus the name) when reported by the WSJ in July, and our poll certainly suggests there would be demand for it, with 24 percent of 9to5Mac readers declaring that they love the idea. There have, however, so far been few supporting specifics.

Digitimes is not always the most credible of sources, but it is today suggesting that the 12.9-inch iPad will be manufactured by Quanta Computer, launched in October and targeted at the education market, citing its usual anonymous “supply chain sources” … 

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Sketchy claim of Retina iPad Mini production being boosted to 4M units this month

Photo: ibtimes.co

Photo: ibtimes.co

Digitimes is citing its usual unnamed supply-chain sources to support a claim that Apple is boosting production of the Retina iPad Mini to almost four million units, with shipment dates this month.

This would seem unlikely. The rather more reliable KGI had forecast shipments of just 2.2M for the entire holiday quarter, rising to 4.5M in the first quarter of 2014. The bottleneck is believed to be the retina screen.

Currently, supplies of the wifi model appear good, availability of the cellular models is poorer, and we’d expect things to get tighter as we get closer to the holidays.

The Retina iPad Mini was very well received in reviews, though there have been criticisms of the reduced color gamut compared to the iPad Air.

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Foxconn stops iPhone 5c production at one factory, switches capacity to 5s

Photo: Sunday Mirror

Photo: Sunday Mirror

Foxconn is ceasing production of the iPhone 5c at one of its factories in order to boost production of the iPhone 5s, according to sources cited by Digitimes.

Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) will stop production of the iPhone 5c at its factory in Zhengzhou, northern China, and shift the capacity to iPhone 5s, according to industry sources.

Digitimes is not the most reliable of sources, but this one gels with other reports suggesting that Apple is cutting back on production of its plastic handset in order to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5s.

The reports can, of course, be viewed as indicating either success for the 5s or failure for the 5c. Given the numbers reported last month, following on from record opening weekend sales, it seems pretty clear that while Apple got its predictions wrong, the reason is good news rather than bad: more people than expected opting for the high-end handset.