Apple moves one step closer to iPhone XI launch with next-gen SoC production start

Apple moves one step closer to iPhone XI launch with next-gen SoC production start
It's no big secret that Apple is hard at work on three new iPhones meant to replace the popular XS, XS Max, and XR sometime in the fall, but you may not have realized just how close the next-gen trio actually is to a production start. Bloomberg is highlighting the imminence of the iPhone XI, XI Max, and iPhone XR 2 (names obviously to be confirmed) in a fresh report offering a peak behind the curtain of the A13 chip design process.

Following in the footsteps of a blazing fast Apple A12 SoC used on the entire 2018 iPhone lineup, the A13 is likely to be manufactured by TSMC under the close supervision of the Cupertino-based tech giant, which is naturally in charge of the chipset's design. The usual performance upgrades are therefore expected from the new iPhone family, which should be able to easily fend off the Android-running competition in terms of raw speed.

Test production already underway, mass manufacturing right around the corner

Before getting too excited, keep in mind we're still talking about the aforementioned TSMC-made Apple A13 processor, not the actual next-gen iPhones. The production of the three handsets is not expected to kick off for a few more months, following various key preparatory supply chain moves. One of those is the A13's "early test production", which purportedly started last month, with the chipset's mass-production scheduled for "as early as this month."

While the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is a very experienced "pure-play" chip maker, not to mention a seasoned and trusted Apple partner, you can never be too careful when it comes to setting the stage for an iPhone release. Compared to the A12, the Apple A13 is tipped to add a groundbreaking technology called extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) into the equation, aiming for a larger than usual increase in both performance and energy efficiency.

Of course, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Huawei's next-gen flagship SoCs could also adopt the 7nm EUV process, but if recent history is any indication, none of those chips will be able to keep up with the A13. TSMC's stellar components from previous years likely gave the Taiwanese company the edge over Samsung, which was once again in contention, ultimately losing another big contract after the A12, A11, and A10. 2015's A9 was the last Apple-designed SoC where Samsung obtained a slice of the production pie.

iPhone XI camera technology and reverse wireless charging

Apart from unsurprisingly sharing a state-of-the-art Apple A13 processor, this year's iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR sequels are today tipped to offer a feature that "lets users charge the latest AirPods and other devices by putting them on the back of the new iPhones." If that sounds familiar, it's probably because the Huawei Mate 20 Pro launched last fall with reverse wireless charging functionality, followed by Wireless PowerShare integration into Samsung's Galaxy S10 lineup.

It's also not the first time we're hearing this particular rumor for 2019 iPhones, and the same goes for a triple rear camera setup expected to be accommodated by the iPhone XI and XI Max, while the iPhone XR 2 is widely speculated to settle for a dual shooter arrangement, which would still include one extra imaging sensor compared to the original XR.

Bloomberg's inside sources add even more fuel to the square-shaped camera array fire for the iPhone 11, also forecasting a bump in overall thickness of "about half a millimeter" for the XS and XS Max successors. In terms of actual capabilities, the third shooter on the high-end variants is rumored to produce "larger and more detailed photos" with an ultra-wide-angle lens joining the regular and telephoto sensors. Meanwhile, all three 2019 models should up the zoom ante, although Apple may need to do something special to catch up to Huawei in that particular field. 

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