05/27 update below. This post was originally published on May 25
It looks like Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup will drive prices up significantly. And now we have a better idea why…
The famous Korean technology website ET News reported that for the first time in the history of the iPhone, Apple will install a South Korean front camera in its smartphone. The camera will bring significant upgrades in image quality (broken down here), but it comes with an amazing cost increase.
Update 05/27: More details about Apple’s iPhone 14 production plans have been leaked and they come from two of the industry’s most reliable sources. The first famous Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has open The production of the new iPhone 14 Max is “delayed”. Koo cites the Shanghai shutdown as a factor but says he hopes “suppliers can work overtime to keep up with the schedule”.
Adds Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and a member of The most accurate industry insiders. In reply to Ko Young Claims That “iPhone 14 Max panel shipments have always been behind ‘add’ I’m not sure why.” Special. He speculates “maybe they have modest size targets for this target.” It is possible, but I suspect that the iPhone 14 Max will be the most popular model in the iPhone 14 range.
Either way, Apple is likely heading for its first split version since the launch of the iPhone 12 in 2020 – which in turn was only the second in iPhone history (after the iPhone 8/iPhone X). So if you want an iPhone 14 Max at launch, you’ll need to act fast.
Citing industry sources, ET News claims that Apple had to quickly change its plans for the iPhone 14’s front camera after “quality issues from Chinese manufacturers” during testing. Thus, Apple will install the LG Innotek camera module this year which was originally intended for the iPhone 15.
The good news is that for the first time, ET News reports the unit offers advanced iPhone front-facing camera functionality, including autofocus. This is something respected Industry Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed for the first time Back in April with autofocus joining an improved aperture for better depth of field in portrait mode and video calls.
The downside is the cost. According to an ET News source, “the price of the front-facing camera module of the iPhone 14 has increased almost three times compared to previous models.” This is the biggest component price increase I can remember. Historically, Apple has moved to dual and then triple rear cameras and adding a high refresh rate screen all an extra cost, but not a 3x multiplier.
This all adds up to the narrative that Apple will increase iPhone prices by $100 for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the new iPhone 14 Max will be at least $200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini it replaces.
On the flip side, after multiple reports that the iPhone 14 standard will be little more than a (potentially controversial) rework of the iPhone 13, the front camera quality jump may be one of the phone’s biggest selling points. Especially with the proliferation of video calls in recent years.
Surprisingly revealing Apple’s plans to switch its iPhone lineup to USB-C in 2023 and redesign base models means I still think this is a bad year for an upgrade. But for designer upgrades, things have improved quite a bit.
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