In 2017, the iPhone should undergo a top-to-bottom industrial design overhaul with a number of hardware improvements planned for the handset, such as a wraparound AMOLED display curved at both sides like that on Samsung’s Note 7 and the Galaxy S6/S7 range, as well as an all-new glass enclosure.
According to a recent Chinese-language Commercial Times report cited by DigiTimes, Taiwanese suppliers are now ordering machinery for the production of curved glass chassis for next year’s iPhone lineup. The glass casing should help differentiate the Tenth Anniversary iPhone, as the media affectionally calls the device, and give Apple fans more reasons to upgrade.
Taiwanese supplier Mirle Automation has developed forming equipment for 3D curved glass chassis, allowing it to enter the supply chain for 2017 iPhone series. Foxconn, which assembles iPhones, as well as Apple supplier Lens Technology have ordered Mirle’s machinery, with shipments kicking off in the fourth quarter of 2016.
In an unusual move, Mirle has issued a company filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange saying it was not the source of the report. Knowing Apple is not fond of leaks, that filing right there probably tells us that Mirle went to great lengths to avoid antagonizing Apple, giving more credence to the report.
The report adds that Foxconn’s glass chassis has recently gone through verification by Apple. These firms are expected to supply curved-glass chassis for 2017 iPhones:
- Foxconn Technology
- Bern Optics
- Lens Technology
Lens Technology is especially interesting: Apple recently issued a press releases congratulating Lens’s commitment to utilize 100 percent renewable energy in all its glass production by 2018.
“Lens is the first supplier to make a clean energy commitment for all of its Apple production, and will meet its goal through an unprecedented power purchase agreement with local wind projects,” Apple wrote. Lens’ manufacturing with Apple currently includes two facilities in Changsha, Hunan province.
The iPhone’s metal casing is being produced by Catcher Technology, but its CEO Allen Horng isn’t concerned about potentially losing business to rivals come 2017 because “As far as I know, only one iPhone model will adopt glass casing next year” (and some analysts agree with Horng’s contention).
iPhone 6s teardown photo courtesy iFixit.