Apple Could See 20% On-Quarter Growth in 3Q20 MacBook Shipments

Apple will “significantly increase” MacBook Pro orders with suppliers in the third quarter of this year as the back-to-school season kicks off, according to supply chain sources.


DigiTimes reports that Apple is also set to respond to increasing sales in the creative market, with the number of professionals working from home expected to remain strong in the second half of the year as some countries begin re-imposing regional and city lockdowns in response to the continuing global health crisis.

The upstream supply chain originally believed demand from the work-from-home group would only be short-term, but is now expecting the momentum to last much longer than anticipated, the sources said.

Apple shipped 3.2-3.5 million MacBooks in the second quarter of 2020, and the volumes are expected to grow to around four million units in the third quarter, according to DigiTimes sources. Apple will see its overall MacBook shipments rise over 20 percent in the third quarter as a result.

Apple has said it plans to deliver the first ‌Mac powered by Apple Silicon by the end of the year, as the two-year-long transition away from Intel commences, but we don’t know for sure when the first Arm-based Mac will arrive or which model it will be.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a 13.3-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ with a form factor similar to the current 13.3-inch ‌‌MacBook Pro‌‌ could be the first Mac to get an Arm-based chip designed by Apple.

Kuo expects the ‌‌Apple Silicon‌‌ 13.3-inch ‌‌MacBook Pro‌‌ to go into mass production in the fourth quarter of this year, but he also predicts we will see an Arm-based MacBook Air either in the same quarter or in the first quarter of next year.

Apple is also expected to launch a redesigned ‌iMac‌ this year, although it’s not expected to be an ‌‌Apple Silicon‌‌ machine. Apple has said it still has Intel-based Macs in the pipeline, suggesting they are likely to arrive before the year’s end.

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Apple Bolsters Supply Chain for Future Mini-LED iPad Pro and MacBook Pro Models

Apple is rumored to be releasing a mini LED-backlit iPad Pro and a new mini-LED MacBook Pro series over the next 18 months, and the devices have just picked up two new suppliers, according to industry sources.


DigiTimes today reports that two former Apple suppliers, Taiwan’s Zhen Ding Technology and Flexium Interconnect, have entered the supply chain to make the flexible printed circuit boards for the mini-LED devices.

The two PCB makers will reportedly compete with their South Korean peer Young Poong Electronics for the higher shipment ratio of flexible boards required, and are well placed to gain a larger portion of shipment orders because they boast better flexible board manufacturing technology capability.

Both firms are expected to start small-volume shipments of mini LED-backlit modules in the fourth quarter of 2020 to support the launch of new ‌iPad Pro‌ in the first quarter of 2021, the sources said. As such modules are likely to become standard specs for diverse new iPads and MacBooks, Zhen Ding and Flexium can secure a new profitable outlet for their flexible boards, the sources noted.

Apple is rumored to be planning to release a high-end 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ with a mini-LED display and 5G in 2021. Apple was originally planning to launch the device in the fall of 2020, but is reportedly unable to meet that deadline with the global health crisis, and now multiple sources suggest a 2021 launch. DigiTimes claims we could see the device as early as the first quarter of next year, while leaker L0vetodream has claimed they won’t arrive until the second quarter.

Apple is also working on a 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ and an updated 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ with a mini-LED display, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, although the roadmap for these machines is far from clear.

While Kuo has said the mini-LED version of the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ is slated for the fall of 2020, he hasn’t provided launch information for the 14.1-inch model that Apple is working on, beyond suggesting that there are several mini-LED devices in the works for 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, L0vetodream has claimed the 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ won’t be launching until 2021.


DigiTimes has previously claimed that Apple will launch multiple Mac notebook models with mini-LED backlit displays by the end of 2020, and Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman said in April that Apple plans to introduce a 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ in October or November, but it’s not clear if this refresh features a mini-LED display.

Ultimately, work on all the mini-LED devices may have been pushed back to 2021. This includes the 16-inch mini-LED ‌MacBook Pro‌, and multiple sources now suggest a 2021 launch for the machine.

The future mini-LED displays will use approximately 10,000 LEDs, with each one below 200 microns in size. Mini-LED will ultimately allow for thinner and lighter product designs, offering many of the same benefits as OLED like better wide color gamut, high contrast and dynamic range, and local dimming for truer blacks. Kuo believes the mini-LED technology will “significantly improve productivity and the entertainment experience.”

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Shipments of mmWave 5G iPhones Could Be Much Weaker Than Expected This Year

The latest shipment estimates for Apple’s upcoming mmWave-enabled 5G iPhones are several million units lower than previously expected, which is intensifying competition among suppliers of AiP substrates, reports DigiTimes.

Shipments of mmWave-enabled 5G iPhones slated for launch later this year are estimated to reach only 15-20 million units in 2020 compared to a previous supply chain estimate of 30-40 million units, intensifying competition among Apple’s suppliers of FC-AiP substrates for the new phones, according to industry sources.

Apple is believed to be designing its own antenna-in-package or “AiP” module for mmWave iPhones, which use a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By contrast, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas.

According to DigiTimes, Apple’s AIP package is more cost-effective than previous designs, but some analysts believe that models with support for ultra-fast mmWave technology will likely launch after sub-6GHz models due to production challenges and the global health crisis. To counter these challenges, Apple has diversified its supply chain for the modules to minimize risk.

The upcoming mmWave 5G iPhones will adopt more cost-effective FC-AiP process, with ASE Technology to package AiP modules, the sources said. But Apple reportedly has finalized three suppliers of BT-based FC-AiP substrates, including one based in Taiwan and two in South Korea, and they will together supply 30-50 million substrates, the sources said, adding one iPhone will require 2-3 AiP modules.

Prior to the global health crisis, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was still on track to release both sub-6GHz and sub-6GHz-plus-mmWave “iPhone 12” models simultaneously in the second half of 2020, with shipments beginning in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Kuo has not indicated whether those plans have since changed, but other analysts have said they believe the mmWave iPhones may not arrive this year because Apple’s custom antenna-in-package is proving to be more of a battery drain than the company would like.

Kuo has said 5G iPhone models with mmWave would be available in five markets, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom. He also believes Apple may disable 5G functionality in countries that do not offer 5G service or have a shallow 5G penetration rate to reduce production costs.

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DigiTimes Claims 2020 iPhones Will Use Qualcomm X60 Modem, Despite Previous Rumors Agreeing on X55

Apple is widely expected to release its first 5G iPhones later this year, and multiple sources have indicated that these models will be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem, including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Nikkei Asian Review.


To the contrary, a paywalled snippet from DigiTimes today claims that Apple’s chipmaking partner TSMC will begin manufacturing A14 chips and Snapdragon X60 modems this month for use in upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020. This is the first time that we have seen this possibility mentioned.

TSMC to start chip production for next-gen iPhones in June
TSMC will start manufacturing Apple’s custom-designed A14 SoCs and Qualcomm’s X60 5G modem chips, with both set to power the upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020, using 5nm process technology in June, according to industry sources.

Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the X55. Smartphones equipped with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.

When the X60 was introduced in February, it seemed destined for 2021 iPhones rather than 2020 ones, as Apple needs adequate time for testing and production. Qualcomm itself said that 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to begin launching in early 2021, so this rumor should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism for now.

DigiTimes is a Taiwanese publication with sources within Apple’s supply chain. The website is often dismissed as being wrong, but it shares correct information from time to time. In January, for example, it claimed that Apple planned to release a backlit keyboard with scissor switch keys for the iPad Pro. Two months later, the Magic Keyboard launched.

Apple typically announces new iPhones in September, but due to the global health crisis, there is a possibility of a slight delay to the launch plans.

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New iMac, 10.8-Inch iPad Air, and Larger iPad Mini Rumored to Launch in Second Half of 2020

Apple is gearing up to launch new iMac and iPad models in the second half of this year, according to DigiTimes, casting uncertainty on whether we’ll see a redesigned iMac at WWDC just 10 days from now as recently rumored.


The second half of the year begins just over a week after the WWDC keynote, so it’s possible we could see an announcement there with shipping happening a bit later, but DigiTimes would likely have used a more specific timeframe than the vague “second-half 2020” if the launch were that close.

DigiTimes also lists a series of new screen sizes for various iPads and the ‌iMac‌, although this appears to largely be a regurgitation of previous rumors.

Apple’s new offerings for second-half 2020 are likely to include a 10.8-inch ‌iPad‌ Air and a 23-inch ‌iMac‌ device, with prospects to also release an 8.x-inch ‌iPad‌ mini and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with mini LED display in the first half of 2021, said the sources.

Apple is also expected to enlarge the size of 2020 ‌iPad‌ Air to 10.8-inch compared to the 10.2-inch one launched in 2019, said the sources, adding that volume production of the new ‌iPad‌ Air is to kick off in the third quarter 2020.

Major panel suppliers for the planned 10.8-inch ‌iPad‌ Air include LG Display, BOE Technology and Sharp, with Radiant being the sole BLU supplier, the sources added.

The new 10.8-inch ‌iPad‌ and 8- to 9-inch ‌iPad‌ mini sizes were previously rumored by Ming-Chi Kuo, while the 23-inch ‌iMac‌ size was mentioned by China Times in April.

There has been some uncertainty about this new 10.8-inch ‌iPad‌ and whether it is a basic ‌iPad‌ or an ‌iPad‌ Air, and DigiTimes‘ report today only adds to the confusion by claiming that it is an ‌iPad‌ Air that will see an increase of from 10.2 inches to 10.8 inches. The ‌iPad‌ Air in fact has a 10.5-inch screen, while it is the entry-level ‌iPad‌ that has a 10.2-inch display.

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iPhone 12 Production Expected to Begin in July

Apple will complete the second phase of its “EVT” or “Engineering Validation and Testing” stage for its upcoming iPhone 12 lineup at the end of June and begin production of the models in July, according to a paywalled DigiTimes report.


The wording of the report suggests that all ‌iPhone 12‌ models will enter production next month, but it is unclear if that will result in all models launching simultaneously. While it is likely that Apple announces its ‌iPhone 12‌ lineup in September as usual, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and others have previously claimed that higher-end models with support for ultra-fast mmWave 5G will face a delayed launch due to production challenges.

Specifically, Kuo said that production of mmWave iPhones would be “pushed back” because of antenna-in-package design changes in early April. Lower-end ‌iPhone 12‌ models are expected to support sub-6GHz 5G.

Apple is expected to release four new iPhones later this year, including two ‌iPhone 12‌ models with 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch displays and two ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro models with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays. All four models are expected to feature OLED displays, 5G support, and a smaller notch, while the two higher models are rumored to gain a LiDAR sensor.

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6.1-inch ‘iPhone 12’ Production to Begin in July Ahead of Other 2020 Models

Volume production of Apple’s forthcoming 6.1-inch “iPhone 12” models will start in July-August ahead of the rest of the company’s flagship iPhone lineup this year, according to a new report by DigiTimes.


Apple is widely rumored to be launching four new ‌‌iPhone‌‌ models in the usual September or October timeframe, although supply constraints and delays in production ramp-up could cause a staggered launch compared to previous years.

Of the four new models coming this year, rumors suggest that Samsung will supply the displays for three models: the 5.4-inch entry-level ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌, and the 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch “‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ Pro” models. The fourth new model, a 6.1-inch ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ with similar specs to the entry-level model, is where BOE and LG are said to be supplying displays.

The reason given for the earlier production timeline for the two 6.1-nch models is that they will use touch modules that need to be outsourced from other supply chain partners, whereas the 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch OLED panels provided by Samsung will come with the panel maker’s Y-OCTA Touch technology. Samsung’s Y-OCTA flexible display tech has the touch sensor placed directly on the OLED panel without the need for a separate touch layer.

Today’s report chimes with display analyst Ross Young’s report last month detailing the resolutions and features of Apple’s upcoming All-OLED ‌iPhone‌ lineup. That report also claimed that panel production on components for the new 2020 iPhones will begin at the end of July, although it didn’t say anything about specific models going into production ahead of the rest.

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Samsung Expected to Provide Nearly 80% of OLED Displays for iPhone 12 Lineup

Despite Apple’s focus on diversifying its suppliers for various components in its products, Samsung Display is expected to still provide nearly 80 percent of the OLED displays used in this year’s “iPhone 12” lineup, according to a preview of a DigiTimes report that will be published in full tomorrow.

Samsung Display has obtained nearly 80% of the overall panel orders for Apple’s next-generation iPhone series tentatively dubbed ‌iPhone 12‌ slated for launch later this year, according to industry sources. LG Display and BOE are other panel suppliers for the upcoming iPhones.

Samsung was the exclusive display supplier for Apple’s first OLED ‌iPhone‌, the ‌iPhone‌ X back in 2017. LG came on board the following year as a second supplier, and BOE is now reportedly entering Apple’s supply chain for the 2020 phones as Apple goes all-OLED in its flagship lineup for the first time.

Apple is widely rumored to be launching four new ‌iPhone‌ models in the usual September or October timeframe, although supply constraints and delays in production ramp-up may lead to a somewhat staggered release as we’ve seen in recent years.

Of the four new models coming this year, rumors have indicated that Samsung will supply the displays for three models: the 5.4-inch entry-level ‌iPhone 12‌ and 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch “‌iPhone 12‌ Pro” models. The fourth new model, a 6.1-inch ‌iPhone 12‌ with similar specs to the entry-level model, is where BOE and LG are said to be supplying displays.

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DigiTimes: Future AirPods to Include ‘Ambient Light Sensors’

Apple is reportedly looking to integrate light sensors in a new model of AirPods in the next couple of years, according to a new report today. In a paywalled article, DigiTimes reports that ASE Technology could be involved in manufacturing the sensors:

Apple is expected to incorporate ambient light sensors (ALS) in next-generation ‌AirPods‌ devices in the coming 1-2 years, and Taiwan’s ASE Technology may handle the backend process for the new component, as it has moved to purchase more packaging machines, according to industry sources.

The preview of the report doesn’t specify what function the ambient light sensors would provide, but it’s possible they would replace the optical sensors that ‌AirPods‌ currently use to detect when they’re being worn.

However, it’s unclear why Apple would want to use a more advanced type of sensor to replicate this existing functionality. DigiTimes‘ sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple’s plans. On that basis, it’s conceivable that the sensors could be related to rumored health monitoring features like heart rate and/or blood oxygen saturation from the ear.

Clip-on finger pulse oximeters work by shining red and infrared light through the blood vessels and a light detector measures the volume of blood oxygen based on the amount of light that passes through the finger. These sensors can also be used to measure pulse rate.

In hospitals, ear-based clip-on pulse oximeters work on the same principle and shine light through the earlobe. Part of the light is absorbed by the skin and the part not absorbed reaches the light sensor on the other side.

It’s unclear whether Apple could achieve a similar function without redesigning the way ‌AirPods‌ and AirPods Pro sit in the ear. As things stand, a more likely candidate for the technology would be Apple’s fitness-oriented earphones: Powerbeats Pro sport an over ear design similar to Freewavz’s true wireless earphones, which feature integrated pulse oximeters for measuring blood oxygen and heart rate.


Early last year, DigiTimes claimed that Apple would release next-generation ‌AirPods‌ with “health monitoring features” in the first half of 2019. While Apple launched second-generation ‌AirPods‌ in March 2019, health monitoring smarts were conspicuously absent.

DigiTimes receives a flood of data from the Asian supply chain, some of which it claims pertains to prototypes or test products that never make it to market or change significantly before launch, skewing its accuracy. Given that caveat, it’s possible Apple held back the health monitoring features for a future ‌AirPods‌ model. We certainly know Apple has explored how it might incorporate health monitoring features into future ‌AirPods‌.

One Apple patent describes an earbud-based fitness monitoring system which integrates an advanced biometric sensor that can detect physiological metrics including temperature, heart rate, perspiration levels and more, through skin contact and via built-in motion sensors.

Blood oxygen monitoring is useful for measuring fitness and recovery, but it can also reveal health conditions like sleep apnea and other issues. Apple is expected to activate the feature in a future Apple Watch model, and CEO Tim Cook has highlighted Apple’s interest in health as a major focus that may actually end up being “Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind.”

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Apple’s ‘AirPods Studio’ Over-Ear Headphones Have Reportedly Kicked Off Production

We’ve been hearing quite a bit recently about Apple’s long-rumored over-ear headphones, said to be called “AirPods Studio,” and it looks like a launch may be coming in the relatively near future.

Artist mockup based on Beats Studio3

Rumors have generally suggested a summer or fall launch for ‌AirPods Studio‌, with a report earlier this week claiming that suppliers in Vietnam will begin shipments to Apple in June or July, but a new report from Taiwanese site DigiTimes indicates that production on the new headphones is already underway.

As Apple is likely to accelerate dropping its wired earphones, the vendor will resume normal shipments for AirPods 2 in the second half of the year and its new over-ear headphones, dubbed ‌AirPods Studio‌, has also kicked off production, all securing growth momentum for rigid-flex boards suppliers for the devices, including Unitech Printed Circuit Board and Compeq Manufacturing, the sources said.

The mention comes in a larger story about circuit board suppliers for the whole ‌AirPods‌ lineup and doesn’t include any further details on the ‌AirPods Studio‌, but it certainly looks like a launch is coming sooner rather than later.

Apple’s virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off exactly one month from today, could be a good opportunity to introduce the new headphones, although they are not necessarily a developer-focused product and so Apple may opt for a separate launch so as to not distract from the focus of the event.

Among the ‌AirPods Studio‌ details revealed in recent rumors are a $349 price point matching the Beats Studio3 pricing, a pair of models in premium leather-like and more breathable fitness-friendly fabrics, ear and headband padding that attaches magnetically for easy swapping, and embedded sensors for head and neck detection and automatically routing left and right audio channels to the appropriate earcups regardless of which way the headphones are worn.

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