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iPhone 14 appears on track — Apple navigates supply chain challenges during record quarter

iPhone 14 Pro render
(Image credit: Unbox Therapy)

Apple earnings announcements are terrible places to learn about upcoming iPhones, largely because the company steadfastly refuses to field any questions about unannounced products. And indeed, the iPhone 14 that's likely to arrive in the fall never came up today (July 28) as Apple talked to Wall Street analysts about its record-setting revenue for the company's fiscal third quarter that ended in June.

Yet, despite the lack of any concrete iPhone 14 information during the quarterly earnings talk, if I were expecting an iPhone 14 release date to happen at some point in September at the Apple Event, I'd be feeling pretty good after Apple's conference call. And that's largely because Apple's upcoming phone releases didn't come up at all.

If you have a long memory, you may think back to two years ago, when the consequences of the initial Covid-19 lockdowns were hitting companies hard. Apple wasn't immune, warning investors during that 2020 June quarter earnings call that its usual September iPhone release was going to get pushed back. And true to Apple's word, the iPhone 12 didn't make an appearance until an October event, with some models only shipping in November.

Apple Q3 results: another record

There was nothing along the lines of that kind of warning in today's call, with Apple instead focusing on how it had just navigated its way through supply constraints and other economic headwinds to actually record sales for its June quarter. Revenue reached just under $83 billion in the June quarter, just a 1.9% rise from the year-ago period, but a record nevertheless.

"Overall, we are very happy with the results," CEO Tim Cook told analysts during the earnings briefing. "And when you think about the number of challenges in the quarter, we feel really good about the growth that we put up."

A 12% jump in revenue from services — all those subscription-based offerings Apple now has along with products like Apple Pay — helped Apple hit its sales record, as did a better-than-expected quarter for the iPhone. Apple sold nearly $40.7 billion in smartphones for the quarter, a 3% bump from the previous year that the company attributed to the iPhone 13 lineup's ongoing warm reception and the fact that smartphones haven't faced the same supply constraints hitting the Mac and iPad business.

The forecast for September

It's Apple's guidance for the quarter ending in September — the same period when the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are likely to appear — that really caught my attention. Apple told analysts it expects its year-over-year revenue growth to accelerate compared to the June quarter with fewer supply constraints than what it's been facing lately. While that last bit of guidance likely applies to the products Apple already ships, it's not reading too much into the statement to assume that soon-to-launch products like this year's iPhone release may be in good shape.

That would quite a contrast to some of the rumors that have been circulating recently, particularly around the iPhone 14 Max. That's the 6.7-inch phone likely to replace the mini model in Apple's lineup this fall. Some leaks have suggested that the new model was lagging behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max in lining up display supplies — the larger iPhone 14 Pro model is expected to feature the same 6.7-inch panel as the iPhone 14 Max — raising fears that at least some iPhone 14 debuts may be pushed back.

For the moment, that doesn't appear to be the case, at least given Apple's lack of any warning and its repeated assurances that it's successfully navigating supply issues with its other product lines.

iPhone 14 outlook

We've circled September 13 in pencil on our calendars as the likely day for Apple's iPhone announcement. There's nothing I heard in the latest Apple earnings call that makes me want to break out the eraser.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.