A trio of supply chain reports out of Asia are making the rounds this morning. The first rumor suggests that one of a future-generation iPhones is a four-inch handset that should be released in Q1 2016.
The second report claims that Apple will formally announce walk-in purchases for its wearable device at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week.
And the third story informs us that an Apple and Samsung supplier is investing $260 million in a production facility to churn out 3D curved glass, suggesting the faint possibility of sapphire-protected screens on some iOS devices.
Sources “familiar with the matter” are claiming that the official announcement regarding Apple Watch in-store availability will be made during, or right after WWDC.
A 9to5Mac first reported Monday that Apple is making preparations for a June retail launch of the wearable device, without requiring customers to pre-reserve their device online.
As for the fabled brand new four-inch iPhone model, Apple supplier AU Optronics is reportedly among the myriad of manufacturers said to provide panels for the so-called “iPhone 7C,” which should launch in the first quarter of next year.
AU Optronics also supplies mobile panels to Android manufacturers, but the report specifically states that the supplier will be “one of the companies responsible for supplying Apple with the required panels.”
The rumor of a four-inch iPhone model resembling iPhone 6 design can be traced back to a December 2014 supply chain report which was picked up by analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company. He took it at face value and wrote in a note to clients that Apple is in fact considering a return of the four-inch iPhone some time this year.
Citing industry sources, the somewhat reliable DigiTimes said in March 2015 that a new four-inch iPhone would get introduced this year, alongside new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models.
However, revered analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities wasn’t impressed, predicting that this year’s iPhone refresh will stay at current display sizes of 4.7 and 5.5-inches.
Lastly, China’s Blue Synopsys is investing a total of 1.624 billion yuan, or about $260 million, in its 3D curved glass business to produce around 27 million 3D glass panels per year, making it one of the largest 3D curved glass suppliers in the world.
An additional $549 million will be reportedly spent on technologies to produce sapphire camera lenses, sapphire fingerprint protection lenses, as well as “sapphire glass panels for wearables.”
Blue Synopsys counts Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple and others as its clients. While these protective glass panels are best suited for curved-screen smartphones such as the Galaxy S6 Edge, the Apple Watch uses a flexible OLED display and iPhones were supposed to feature sapphire-coated screens.
Could this be the solution to Apple’s low sapphire yield issues?
And does Apple need a four-inch smartphone?
Share your opinion with fellow readers in the comment section below.
Source: G for Games 1, 2 and 3