We could be just weeks away from the iPhone 13's reveal, but whether or not that's true, there could be bad news for the supply of Apple's latest smartphone.
This comes from Foxconn, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that has produced every iPhone handset to date. It announced in a new quarterly report that although it was enjoying a 30% boost in profit, it was also preparing for potential supply chain disruption, one which could affect the production of the next iPhone.
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The warning for shortages is based on rising COVID-19 cases throughout Asia, reported Reuters (opens in new tab). The disruptions that could be caused by closures and lockdowns would then fuel the ongoing global chip shortage, which has left manufacturers scrabbling for a limited number of components.
While Foxconn's chairman, Liu Young-way, said the shortage had affected the company, he also explained that the influence of its clients, presumably including Apple, had helped it secure parts. He also warned that the shortage could last until quarter 2 of next year, which could mean disruptions to upcoming devices beyond the iPhone 13.
To quote Liu from Reuters:
"The epidemic situation appears to be worsening in Asia," he said. "Because Asia is the key global hub for ICT components, it needs to be closely watched whether the epidemic will have an impact to the overall supply chain," he said, referring to the supply chain for tech products."
Apple itself had already warned of the impact of the global chip shortage to Mac and iPad production earlier this year, and how this would begin to affect iPhones later in the year. With the iPhone likely debuting next month, it could mean we see the reveal date, retail launch or both pushed back to give Apple the best chance of meeting the likely high demand. Otherwise, Apple will have to face a lot of angry customers who can't find the iPhone 13 in stock.
New iPhone 13 camera assembly method?
Foxconn is expected to produce around three-quarters of Apple's iPhone stock each year, according to analyst firm Fubon Securities. And based on a report by The Elec (opens in new tab) (via 9to5Mac (opens in new tab)), Apple's also tasking Foxconn with a new job that should help save it money.
That task is assembling the iPhone's camera modules, for which Foxconn has just bought new inspection equipment, as the Elec discovered. Previously, the report states, Apple bought the dual- and triple-camera arrays as complete units from companies like LG and Sharp. Under the new system, the cameras would arrive separately at Foxconn where they would then be put together.
Apple appears to be cutting costs here, and assuming it doesn't make the end product worse, this could be a good thing for the customer. Perhaps Apple will be using these newly realized funds to pay for the iPhone 13's new rumored features. These include 120Hz refresh rate displays on the two iPhone 13 Pro models, an always-on display, a smaller Face ID notch and larger batteries across all four versions.