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Delayed upgrades to 5G expected to drive iPhone supercycle past 2022

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Delayed upgrades to 5G expected to drive iPhone supercycle past 2022
In the United States and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, yesterday was the longest day of the year. So now, as the days get shorter, it can only mean one thing to iPhone fans: the unveiling of the 2021 handsets are approximately less than three months away. And researchers at Trend Force believe that Apple will have 223 million units built for this year.

Apple to increase iPhone production by 12.3% this year says research firm


Trend Force says that more people are getting vaccinated leading to some relief in terms of COVID cases and deaths. As a result, the global economy is expected to recover which will help boost iPhone demand. 2021 production of Apple's smartphone will rise 12.3% this year estimates the researcher, assuming that everything Apple is expecting from variables like the economic recovery and the rebound from the pandemic remain on track.

39% of the the handsets built this year will consist of 2021 iPhone models and the percentage of 5G enabled iPhone models being produced out of total production will rise from 39% last year to 75% this year. Additionally, the focus will be on non-mini models which isn't a surprise considering that the iPhone 12 mini did not produce strong sales numbers as the other models did and had an EOL (End-of-Life) status ahead of time during the second quarter of this year.

While Apple has yet to officially brand the 2021 iPhone models, Trend Force is in the camp that believes the phones will be named the iPhone 12s rather than the iPhone 13; the number 13 brings connotations of bad luck and death. Some believe that due to the fear of the number 13 in several regions, Apple will call this year's new models the iPhone 12s series and skip ahead to the iPhone 14 for next year's phones.

Trend Force also notes that most of the changes being made to the 2021 line are optimizations and improvements for existing features. The changes noted by the research firm include the use of the new A15 Bionic chip for all four models produced using TSMC's 5nm+ node, and a 120Hz variable refresh rate for the two Pro variants (with LTPO technology included to save battery life).

The four units will each be equipped with sensor-shift image stabilization which stabilizes videos by adjusting each cameras' sensors instead of the lens. The Pro models will also sport 6P Ultra-wide lens, LiDAR sensors, and autofocus capabilities.

Meanwhile, Apple bull Daniel Ives, who toils as an analyst for securities firm Wedbush, disseminated a note to clients that AppleInsider was able to take a look at. In the note, Ives admits that Wall Street's lack of conviction in the future growth of iPhone sales has led the company's stock to underperform so far this year. But Ives expects to see another strong cycle in iPhone sales this year.

Analyst says overdue upgrades for 250 million active iPhone models will drive growth


Supply chain checks in Asia conducted by Wedbush call for current iPhone builds to reach between 130 million and 150 million units with the iPhone 12s/13 models representing 35% to 45% of that figure. Ives sees a 20% hike in iPhone 12s/13 pre-launch builds to 100 million units compared to the 80 million iPhone 12 units that were being produced at pre-launch last year.

In his note, Ives wrote that "While this number will clearly move around over the coming months (chip shortage volatility adds to it), we believe this speaks to an increased confidence with Cook & Co. that this 5G driven product cycle will extend well into 2022 and should also benefit from a post vaccine consumer reopening environment."

The analyst expects Apple will add some new capabilities for the LiDAR sensor and also believes that there will be a variant of the Pro models sporting 1TB of storage. Ives adds that 250 million of the approximate 975 million active iPhone units have yet to be upgraded over the last three and a half years, the current "robust consumer product cycle" could last well into 2022.

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Apple iPhone 13 specs
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  • Hardware Apple A15 Bionic 4GB RAM
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Apple iPhone 13 mini specs
  • Display 5.4 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels 60Hz Refresh rate
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
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Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max specs
  • Display 6.7 inches 2778 x 1284 pixels 120Hz Refresh rate
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A15 Bionic 6GB RAM
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