Generally reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities recently said that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), contrary to previous reports, plans to launch all three of its upcoming iPhone models in September.
Apple is expected to launch two iPhone models with liquid crystal displays (LCDs) as direct successors to the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, as well as a premium model with an OLED display and other differentiating technologies.
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A new report from The Korea Herald appears to contradict the report from Kuo, suggesting that the premium iPhone may indeed be delayed.
Still figuring it out
The Korea Herald, citing industry sources, claims that Apple is "still undecided on the detailed specifications of some hardware and design features" of the upcoming premium iPhone model.
The report says that an "official from a Korean supplier" claimed that while Apple has "approved the September launch of two LCD models," the premium model "is likely to be delayed to November." That same official also told the publication that the rear design of the OLED iPhone "has not yet been finalized" and that before that supplier is still "awaiting Apple's final decision before shipping parts."
Another hint that the device may be delayed, per The Korea Herald, is that Samsung Display (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF), the company believed to be responsible for building the OLED displays for the phones, "had initially planned to start production for Apple in the first half of the year but put off the schedule to July due to the delayed decision."
Does this sound legit?
To be quite blunt, there are a couple of things in this report that don't seem to make a lot of sense.
First, it doesn't make sense that removing the in-display fingerprint scanner would lead to a delay of the OLED iPhone. In fact, one might reasonably assume that Apple removing a feature that's proving problematic to get working correctly would accelerate the product introduction, not delay it.
Furthermore, there is another statement in the report that seems wonky. "The LCD models are expected to have an edge-to-edge screen that wraps around the side," the report says. "LG Display (NYSE: LPL) is the key supplier."
Although this technology certainly isn't unheard of -- longtime Apple iPhone display supplier Japan Display recently announced a line of LCDs that uses a plastic substrate to allow for "curved shapes" that will go into production in 2018 -- the rumor mill hasn't really mentioned this until now.
In fact, virtually every credible rumor about the LCD iPhone models suggests that they will retain largely the same shape and dimensions as the current-generation iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices but with some materials and cosmetic changes (e.g., glass back, different colors).
But who knows? Perhaps Apple as well as LG Display have managed to develop a compelling alternative to the technology that Japan Display touted, and may have it ready sooner than Japan Display will.
That being said, based on some parts of this report not quite adding up for me, my advice is this: Wait for reports from other analysts/publications. If what The Korea Herald has written is corroborated by others, then the odds of its reporting being true should go up. Otherwise, I'd remain skeptical.
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