Friday, December 2, 2022

New Apple Leak Reveals iPhone 14 Release Surprise

07/04 Update below. This post was originally published on July 2

Apple’s iPhone 14 range is just two months away and, while leaks have revealed everything from their battery capacities to potential price increases, one surprising detail was overlooked: a new name.

In September, Apple is expected to announce a more affordable version of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which was widely assumed to be called the ‘iPhone 14 Max’. But a detailed supply chain report from analyst Omdia, uses a far more logical name.

Breaking with leaks to date, Omdia senior research director David Hsieh refers to the new device (and iPhone 13 Mini replacement) as the ‘iPhone 14 Plus’. This makes a lot of sense. It harks back to Apple’s previous branding for its biggest phones and creates greater delineation between two 6.7-inch models.

07/04 Update: further supply chain information has leaked around Apple’s iPhone 14 release plans. Countering an earlier report from Digitimeswhich claimed Apple had been forced to slash the initial wave of iPhone 14 production from major supplier TSMC by 10%, respected Apple analyst and insider Ming Chi Kuo has revealed that production for the new range remains largely on track.

“Rumored TSMC’s iPhone 14 orders cut by 10% is not aligned with my survey. I currently maintain my 2H22 shipment forecast for iPhone 14, about 100 mn [million] and 90 minutes units for components and EMS, respectively.”

This will be critical for Apple given that Kuo believes that demand for the iPhone 14 lineup will be stronger in China than it has been for iPhone 13 models:

“My latest survey indicates that some Chinese distributors/retailers/scalpers have to pay the highest prepaid deposit ever for iPhone 14 to ensure a sufficient supply… At present, in the Chinese market, the iPhone 14 prepaid deposit is significantly higher than the iPhone 13 and even twice as high in some areas.”

What is driving this demand, given the historically minor upgrades coming to standard iPhone 14, remains to be seen. But leaks will now accelerate mass production has begun. Meanwhile, any potential iPhone 13 upgraders would now be wise to wait until the iPhone 14 models launch in September.

Beyond this, the name ‘Max’ is also problematic. A max-version of any device implies that it is the best of something ahead of its physical size, hence phrases like ‘to the max’. The connotations around ‘plus’ are not so extreme, ‘plus size’ is a long-standing association and the word implies ‘more’ rather than best. This would be a better fit, given standard iPhone 14 models will miss out on most major iPhone 14 Pro upgrades.

Apple’s most recent branding also shows a desire to keep Max reserved for premium hardware. In ascending order, the M1 (and soon M2) range is comprised of:

  • M1
  • M1 Pro
  • M1 Max
  • M1 Ultra

Max sits above Pro. Yes, Apple’s branding has long been criticized for creating confusion (look no further than the ‘Apple Watch Edition’), but releasing an iPhone 14 Max which is cheaper and slower than an iPhone 14 Pro would be bizarre even by Apple’s standards.

Adding further weight to Hsieh’s language is the detail of Omdia’s report, which breaks down iPhone component suppliers, supply distribution and order volumes for the next two years. Going against this is the sheer number of high-profile leakers who have been talking about an iPhone 14 Max for months. It would be a surprise for them to be wrong this close to launch, but certainly not unprecedented.

Yes, there are bigger questions surrounding the iPhone 14 lineup — including their eye-opening battery capacities, camera differences and generational chipset gap — but for Apple, getting the messaging right around these phones is critical. And that all starts with a name.

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