Apple is experimenting with new supplier to build ‘iPhone 5se’


Don't call it the '5se'.
The iPhone may be shrinking, but Apple's supplier base sure isn't.
Photo: Martin Hajek

Apple is reportedly adding a new supplier to help build its eagerly-anticipated 4-inch “iPhone 5se” — giving up-and-coming supplier Wistron a piece of the iPhone-producing pie in an an attempt to “nurture” it as a non-Foxconn Apple manufacturer.

This is reportedly part of a strategy Apple has been pursuing recently, in which it uses several different companies to manufacture each of its products as a way of lowering the risk of relying on one single supplier — while maximizing profits in the process.

The Digitimes report notes that:

“Apple has been trying to separate its orders to different ODMs to avoid risks. In February 2015, the vendor added Compal Electronics as an iPad mini manufacturer, and Wistron to conduct iPhone touch panel lamination, and has recently outsourced a small portion of its new 4-inch iPhone orders to Wistron, looking to nurture Wistron to become an iPhone assembly house, according to some market watchers.”

By broadening its number of suppliers Apple gets more of a bargaining chip for keeping supplier prices competitive, while also helping to cut down on supply-and-demand issues which have sometimes cost it sales in the early days of new devices. The strategy coincided with 2014’s GT Advanced Technologies debacle, in which Apple’s reliance on one manufacturer stopped the iPhone 6 having sapphire displays as the company had hoped for.

Apple’s own manufacturers have also spoken out about how dangerous it is to become too reliant on Cupertino without diversifying.

Wistron was invited to join Apple’s supply chain last year, alongside Compal Electronics. Although the iPhone 4-inch 5se (please let that not be its final name!) is unlikely to be Apple’s biggest seller, giving the company iPhone orders alongside Foxconn is a good way of testing the waters to see how it copes with Apple’s biggest product line.

The 4-inch iPhone and iPad Air 3 are likely to go on sale around March 18.


  • David Kaplan 

    If the phone ends up not being called iPhone 5SE instead of iPhone 6C I’m going to lose it.

    • Luke Dormehl

      It wouldn’t make any sense to me if it was called the 5SE. Not only is it a very messy name: the kind of thing Jobs tried to banish with his simple naming scheme when he returned to Apple, but it also suggests it’s an old phone right off the bat. Even if it’s based on iPhone 5s architecture, it seems baffling to give it the name of an almost three-year-old handset.

      • igorsky

        I think the both of you need to settle down a little. 5SE is not a bad at all, and the design of this phone is rumored to be much closer to the 5S than the 6, in which case calling it the 6C would be much more “messy”.

      • David Kaplan 

        Exactly! In my opinion every product line is too cluttered, except the watch because it’s about style. Steve Jobs was always into the simple. He didn’t even like having to have different storage options. They need to stop selling 2 iPad Mini models at once… as an example.

    • Dan

      I don’t know why they just didn’t have three models of the iPhone 6 and kept the 4″ around then and kept it updated along with newer models. The rumored images going around before the release of the larger iPhones with the 4inch version looked perfect. Name wise why not just call them iPhone 6 or iPhone 7 with different size screens and same options across the board like Macbooks. First thing you look at when buying a Macbook is the screen size then go from there, storage needs, etc.

      • David Kaplan 

        I do understand why they want to stagger updates on those phones, from a business standpoint there aren’t as many lulls in the year when you continually introduce new products. When the calendar is too fixed in stone the company can’t do as well in Q1 and Q2 of the calendar year.

  • Michael The Geek 

    …..while maximizing profits in the process.