Apple orders insane number of new iPhones, but 5.5-inch model faces setbacks

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Apple is asking its manufacturing partners to make a record 70-80 million units of the iPhone 6 for the holiday season, according to The Wall Street Journal. What’s interesting is that Apple isn’t having suppliers make the 4.7 and 5.5-inch models simultaneously.

While it looks like Apple is expecting to sell more iPhones than ever before in the coming months, new technology used in the iPhone 6 (especially the 5.5-inch version) is still making production difficult.

“For Apple, one possible hiccup with the larger screen is that display makers for the new iPhones are struggling to improve the production of the larger 5.5-inch screens, people familiar with the matter said. The production is complicated because the displays are using in-cell technology, which allows the screens to be thinner and lighter by integrating touch sensors into the liquid crystal display and making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer.”

Problems with the largest of the future iPhone 6 models have been chronicled ad nauseam. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said that suppliers are having trouble applying sapphire to the 5.5-inch panels, and that there are also issues with the device’s metal casing.

Which versions of the iPhone 6 get a protective sapphire coating has been a point of contention in the rumor mill. Reports out of Asia recently suggested that Apple could restrict sapphire to higher-end models with more storage. The Journal doesn’t shed any more light on Apple’s sapphire plans, other than that how the material will be implemented still seems up for debate.

A particularly interesting tidbit from the Journal’s report is that Foxconn and Pegatron are starting to make the 4.7-inch model next month, while Hon Hai is exclusively making the 5.5-inch version starting in September.

Release of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 has been projected to happen later in 2014 at the earliest or possibly even 2015. If Apple’s supplier for the device is starting later than Foxconn and Pegatron, that would certainly suggest we won’t see both devices go on sale at the same time.

A 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may arrive just in time for Christmas if we’re lucky. The 4.7-inch model, which we’ve seen an abundance of part leaks for, still seems on track for a September release like usual.

  • Exile714

    So, let me get this straight. Last week, MingChi Kuo predicts based on his reading of the supply chain that the larger iPhone will be delayed. Nothing since has confirmed this. Now, Apple has ordered enough phones to satisfy tremendous demand. This would not make sense if the delay were true, as an order of 60-70 million sounds like it will satisfy pent-up demand (as fewer units met demand last year). Why would Apple expect such demand if they also expect a delay in the larger model?

    I see another, simpler explanation: Kuo is wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, as his 2013 record was less than stellar. But by all means, keep treating his every word as fact… It’s wonderful clickbait!

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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