KGI: Apple will have just three million iPhone X units available at launch

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reiterated his previous stance that production issues will severely impact early iPhone X supply, predicting that Apple will have just three million units of the OLED handset available at launch.

In a Friday note to clients, obtained by MacRumors, he predicted that the Cupertino giant will stockpile between two and three million iPhone X units prior to launch.

Kuo attributed the production snag to supply shortages for components like the phone’s wide angle camera and the dot projector. “We believe the previous design issues of the dot projector sometimes being unable to recognize human faces has been resolved after active alignments or environmental tests were addressed,” reads the note, so that’s obviously good news.

iPhone X is also said to use separate flexible printed circuit boards for its wide angle and telephoto lenses. However, supplier Interflex is apparently experiencing quality issues with the wide angle lens.

Kuo goes on to mention other factors affecting volume production of the phone, like increased manufacturing complexity and issues with the flexible printed circuit board for the antenna, blaming supplier Murata for its inability to meet Apple’s strict specifications.

Here’s an excerpt from his note:

Special materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are required for the antenna flexible printed circuit board, as the specifications for iPhone X antenna (supplied by Amphenol) are higher than those of iPhone 8 and only Murata and Career Tech can meet Apple’s requirements.

Murata (originally with a 60 percent order allocation or higher) won’t be able to resolve its issues before the second quarter of fiscal 2018, and thus has been fully replaced by second supplier Career.

Component shortage should ease in November, the analyst added.

“We believe Career will ramp up in November, as capacity expansion takes time, and its materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are different from those of Murata,” reads the note.

Kuo’s revised iPhone X shipment estimates call for 25–30 million units for the fourth quarter, down from 30–35 million. Shipments should “pick up markedly” in the first quarter of 2018.

Preorders for iPhone X open a week from today, ahead of the November 3 launch.

Image: iPhone X billboard display in Harajuk, Japan, via Bien Perez