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The most exciting iPhone 14 model could be delayed

iPhone 14 case leak
(Image credit: Weibo)

The rumored iPhone 14 Max may be one of the most anticipated iPhone releases in a while. A potential new addition to the iPhone lineup, this iPhone 14 model would offer shoppers the chance to get a big-screen handset from Apple without having to pay iPhone Pro Max prices.

But this 6.7-inch phone is proving hard to make, if reports from Apple's supply chain are any indication. This week, Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants told followers on Twitter that Apple is having a hard time lining up panels for the iPhone 14 Max (opens in new tab).

Specifically, Young says that iPhone 14 Max panel shipments are lagging way behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which will feature the same size screen but offer a fast-refreshing display — a feature that apparently won't be available on the lower-cost iPhone 14 models. According to 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), which reported on Young's Twitter comments, panel shipments for the iPhone 14 Pro Max are three times higher than those for the iPhone 14 Max.

This is just the latest report suggesting that Apple may be running into issues with the iPhone 14 Max. An earlier report from May claimed one iPhone 14 model was behind schedule due to strict coronavirus-related lockdowns in China. The report didn't specify which model, but it's rumored that it might have been the iPhone 14 Max. (For what it's worth, a subsequent statement from Foxconn, Apple's main iPhone supplier, claimed that the lockdown impact was limited on its operations.)

Nevertheless, any report about potential supply shortages will spark speculation of a delayed launch from the expected iPhone 14 release date. Rumors suggest Apple will unveil its new phones in the second week of September, though that's far from confirmed at this point.

If the iPhone 14 Max is proving difficult to make in large volumes, Apple has a couple of options for launching the iPhone 14 lineup. It could go with a staggered launch where some models arrive earlier than others. This has happened multiple times recently, with 2020's iPhone 12 launch being the most recent example. In that coronavirus-impacted year, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October, while the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max followed up with a November release.

Apple could also launch all the phones at once, and just live with the possibility that iPhone 14 Max will outstrip supply for a while. That happened at the outset of last year's iPhone 13 rollout, where Apple had a hard time keeping up with demand for its iPhone 13 Pro models, at least initially.

Then again, those scenarios both assume that the iPhone 14 Max is not only behind schedule but that Apple won't be able to ramp up production between now and the fall. Apple could ultimately wind up shipping all four models at once, with any production issues like the ones being reported having no impact on the release date.

The iPhone 14 Max will likely have a bigger battery as well as a bigger screen than the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 14. Otherwise, our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Max comparison suggests a lot of similarities between the two phones. Both are likely to feature two rear cameras and run on the A15 Bionic chip powering the current iPhone 13 Pro models, which could mean a boost in RAM.

It's the iPhone 14 Pro models that are shaping up to be the more feature-packed offerings in Apple's fall lineup. Those phones are tipped to get an A16 Bionic processor and a potentially more powerful main camera. The iPhone 14 Pro could also ditch the notch on Apple's front display for less obtrusive camera cutouts.

There's a lot of time between now and the rumored launch date in September for Apple to sort out any issues. Here's hoping all four iPhone 14 models are ready to go.

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.