New Apple Leak Reveals Impact on iPhone 14 Price

05/28 Update below. This post was originally published on May 25.

Apple’s iPhone 14 range looks set to increase prices significantly. And now we have a better idea why…

Popular Korean tech site ET News reports that for the first time in iPhone history, Apple will install a front-facing camera from South Korea on its smartphone. The camera will bring major image quality improvements (broken down here), but it comes with a dazzling cost bump.

05/27 Update: More details of Apple’s iPhone 14 production plans have now leaked and come from two of the most credible sources in the industry. Apple’s first acclaimed analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, has revealed that the production of the new iPhone 14 Max “is lagging behind”. Kuo cites the Shanghai shutdown as a factor, but says he is hopeful “suppliers can work overtime to catch up with schedule.”

Adding more context is Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and one of the most accurate industry experts. Replying to Kuo, Young claim (it is that “iPhone 14 Max panel shipments have always been behind,” adding “I’m not sure why.” Curiously. he speculates: “Maybe they have modest volume targets for this one.” This is possible, but I suspect the iPhone 14 Max will be the most popular model in the iPhone 14 range.

Either way, Apple is potentially heading for its first split launch since the launch of the iPhone 12 in 2020, which itself 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.

05/28 Update: iPhone 14 components continue to leak at a rate. The mysterious ShrimpApplePro industry insider who first revealed the iPhone 14 Pro i-cutout display in September followed by detailed dimensionshas now leaked the first details of its new A16 chip.

The tipster says that his source understands that the A16 Bionic will continue to use the same 5nm (nanometer) manufacturing process as the A15 (2021) and A14 (2020) and that TSMC will manufacture it again. ShrimpApplePro also downplays rumors of major performance improvements, saying “the upgrades are slightly better CPU, LPDDR5 RAM, and better GPU.”

The big push here is the move to LPDDR5 memory, which is 1.5x faster and 30% more power efficient than the LPDDR4X memory used in iPhone 13. That said, memory alone doesn’t it will offer the big performance jumps we’ve seen since some newer generations of iPhone chips.

Interestingly, with Apple’s recent admission that supply lines are tight, it looks like Apple’s M2 chip is where the next leap of innovation will happen. ShrimpApplePro reports it’s the chip that will transition to 3nm, something previously indicated for the A16, and that’s understandable given its use in the iPad, Mac and MacBook lines. 3nm is expected to reduce power consumption by 25-30% compared to 5nm chips, allowing for higher clock speeds and higher performance.

Meanwhile, the mystery of the iPhone 14 chipset continues. We may have our first details about the A16 chip, but multiple leaks have claimed the chip will only come to iPhone 16 Pro models, potentially as ‘A16 Pro’, with the iPhone 13 A15 chip used in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max being renamed ‘A16’. It remains to be seen how Apple fans would react to this strategy…

Citing industry sources, ET News claims that Apple was forced to quickly change its plans for the iPhone 14’s front-facing camera following “quality issues from Chinese manufacturers” during testing. Consequently, Apple will install an LG Innotek camera module this year that was originally intended for the iPhone 15.

The good news is that ET News reports that the module brings advanced functionality to the iPhone’s front camera for the first time, including autofocus. This is some respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first revealed 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 ET News source, “iPhone 14 front camera unit price has increased almost three times compared to previous models.” This is the biggest component price increase I can recall. Historically, Apple’s moves towards dual and then triple rear cameras and the addition of a high-refresh-rate display come at an additional cost, but not a multiple of 3x.

All of which adds to the narrative that Apple will raise iPhone prices by $100 for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the new iPhone 14 Max will cost at least $200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini it replaces.

On the other hand, following multiple reports that the standard iPhone 14 will be little more than a (potentially controversial) iteration of the iPhone 13, the jump in front-facing camera quality could be one of the phone’s biggest selling points. Especially with the rise of video calls in recent years.

Revelations that Apple surprisingly plans to switch the iPhone lineup to USB-C in 2023 and redesign base models mean I still think this is a bad year to upgrade. But for the determined improvers, things have gotten a little better.

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