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iPhone Batteries Could Have Apple-Designed Power Management Chips Within Two Years

Apple is designing its own power management chips for use in iPhones within the next two years, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
Apple's new in-house power management chip would be the most advanced in the industry, according to the sources, and could have processing capabilities that allow it to better monitor and control power consumption among various components. That means iPhone users could expect devices capable of delivering better performance on lower power consumption.
Apple plans to replace around half of the main power management chips that go into iPhones with its own as early as 2018, but the transition could be delayed until 2019, according to anonymous sources cited in the report.

If the report is accurate, it could be a serious blow for Dialog Semiconductor, the British company that exclusively designs the current main power management chip for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models. Apple reportedly accounted for nearly three quarters of Dialog Semiconductor's revenue in 2016.

The main power management chip controls an iPhone's battery, including charging capabilities and energy consumption. Apple's in-house version will supposedly be "the most advanced in the industry," which could pave the way for future iPhone models to have a better performance-to-battery life balance.

Taiwanese supplier TSMC will be the exclusive manufacturer of Apple's in-house power management chip, according to the report.

Today's report corroborates a prediction by Bankhaus Lampe analyst Karsten Iltgen, who earlier this year said that Apple will at least partially cut back on Dialog Semiconductor's supply of power management chips for future iPhones. Iltgen said Apple already has engineers working on the chips in California and Germany.

Dialog responded to the report with a statement claiming that "business relationships are in line with the normal course of business."

Dialog Semiconductor could be the second large British company to lose significant business from Apple within the next year or two. In April, Imagination Technologies shares plunged after Apple informed the firm it plans to stop using its PowerVR graphics technology in its devices within two years.

Apple appears to be moving towards in-house design of several components, potentially including ARM-based Mac processors and iPhone modems.


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Supply Chain Hints at Apple Releasing Augmented Reality Headset No Later Than 2019

Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer, a primary assembler of the Apple Watch, has revealed that it is working on an augmented reality product for an undisclosed company that some industry observers believe is Apple.

Google Glass Enterprise Edition

Quanta's vice chairman C.C. Leung suggested the device will be a "headset-like gadget with a fully transparent lens that allows users to see through and interact with the environment," according to Nikkei Asian Review.

"Currently, we see such a device available in the market no later than the year 2019," he told reporters after the company's earnings conference.

Leung noted that if an augmented reality device could carry a price tag lower than $1,000, it would likely become a hit in the market, although it is unlikely he has any knowledge of Apple's pricing plans if they even exist yet.

Quanta is the second Apple supplier to mention involvement with an augmented reality product after fellow Taiwanese company Catcher Technology said it has been tapped to supply parts for an undisclosed wearable device.

Bloomberg was among the first to report on Apple's work on an augmented reality headset. It said Apple aims to have the technology ready by 2019, and could ship a finished product as early as 2020, which is a slightly longer timeline.

The headset's custom operating system, based on iOS, is reportedly dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."

Apple hasn't finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but it is investigating touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures as it creates prototypes, the report said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to any headset being at least a few years away during a recent interview about augmented reality.

"Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," Cook said. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with."

Cook has repeatedly expressed a "profound interest" in augmented reality, which he favors over virtual reality. Apple's ARKit platform on iOS 11 enables developers to integrate augmented reality features into iPhone and iPad apps, potentially laying the foundation for what's to come.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project

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Future HomePod Models Could Include Face ID Technology

A new rumor out of Apple's supply chain over the weekend suggests future iterations of the HomePod could come with 3D-sensing cameras supporting Face ID, similar to the front-facing technology on the iPhone X. Specifically, Inventec Appliances president David Ho mentioned recently that the company sees a trend towards both facial and image recognition technology being incorporated into smart speakers, without specifying which speakers in particular (via Nikkei).

Ho made the comment following Inventec's latest earnings conference, and analysts listening predict that he was likely referring to "the next generation of Apple's HomePod." Inventec Appliances is currently the sole supplier of both Apple's AirPods and HomePod, but also makes Xiaomi smartphones, Fitbit devices, and Sonos speakers, among others. Given the company's ties to Apple, analyst Jeff Pu predicts Ho's comments could suggest a Face ID-enabled HomePod in 2019.

"We see trends that engineers are designing smart speakers that will not only come with voice recognition but also incorporate features such as facial and image recognition," President David Ho told reporters after the company's earnings conference.

Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting, said Apple could roll out HomePods with 3D-sensing cameras in 2019.
Ho said that facial recognition features "are set to make people's lives more convenient and to make the product easier to use." He further clarified his comments, however, citing hesitancy about whether smart speakers "with more AI features" would become popular.

HomePod is set to release in December, although Apple has yet to confirm a specific release date for the new device. The upcoming smart speaker was first revealed during WWDC in June, where Apple explained it would be a music-focused speaker with high quality sound, deep Siri integration, and spatial recognition for providing the best sound in any space. Even before it was officially announced, rumors of the device's production were connected to Inventec Appliances.

Over a year before its unveiling at WWDC 2017, Apple's "Siri Speaker" was rumored to include facial recognition of some kind as another leg up on competing Echo products from Amazon. At the time, sources with knowledge of Apple's project said the device would be "self aware" and able to bring up different user profiles as people walk into a room, "such as the music and lighting they like." The HomePod launching next month will lack any such features and instead be controlled mainly through voice-enabled user prompts with Siri.

Related Roundup: HomePod

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iPhone X Supply Estimated to Remain Extremely Tight Until Next Year Due to Earlier Production Issues

iPhone X shipments to customers will total around 20 million units through the end of the year, suggesting availability of the smartphone will be extremely tight through the holiday shopping season, according to Nikkei Asian Review.


The reduction, said to be only half of Apple's originally planned amount for this year, is reportedly due to production issues with the iPhone X's new TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system that powers Face ID and Animoji.

The good news is that Apple's manufacturers have supposedly improved their yield rate, but only towards the end of September. iPhone X is currently being produced at an estimated rate of 10 million units per month.

Apple is also believed to have already started negotiations with other manufacturers over additional production of certain parts, and there is a chance that output volumes could improve rapidly, according to the report.

Today's report echoes what we've heard a seemingly countless number of times from multiple industry observers.

Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst Jeff Pu, for example, originally estimated there would be 45 million iPhone X devices available to purchase. His latest prediction has 36 million units available through the end of the year.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also cut his iPhone X shipment forecast for the fourth quarter to 25-30 million units, down from 30-35 million. He expects 2-3 million units will be shipped into distribution channels ahead of the launch.

iPhone X pre-orders begin Friday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Apple.com, while the device formally launches November 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Caution)

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iPhone X Supply Revised Lower Yet Again as TrueDepth System Still Faces Production Issues

A new report today yet again suggests that customers looking to get an iPhone X this year might face quite the challenge.


Jeff Pu, an analyst with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, has cut his forecast of the number of iPhone X devices that will be produced this year from 40 million units to 36 million. It's the second time he has revised down his estimate, which originally totaled 45 million earlier this year.

The underlying reason is that Apple's suppliers are still struggling to perfect manufacturing of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system, according to Japan's Nikkei Asian Review. We first heard about the production issues from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo a few weeks ago.

Multiple reports have claimed it has taken more time to assemble the TrueDepth system's so-called "Romeo" module than the "Juliet" module.

The "Romeo" module reportedly includes the dot projector that beams more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face, while the "Juliet" module includes the infrared camera that analyzes the pattern. Together, they help power new iPhone X features such as Face ID and Animoji.

Pu maintained his belief that the iPhone X will enter mass production in mid-October and begin to be shipped from China to the first wave of launch countries next week. iPhone X pre-orders begin Friday, October 27, just over two weeks from now. The device officially launches Friday, November 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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