Phone parts suppliers report huge orders for a thinner, lighter phone with massive third and fourth quarter sales goals, according to the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

July 6, 2011

3 Min Read

The latest reports coming from unnamed sources cited by the Wall Street Journal say that Apple is ramping up production of the next-generation iPhone ahead of its fall launch. Component suppliers and others in the channel say that the next iPhone will be thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4, will improve the camera to 8 megapixels, and will use Qualcomm's baseband chips.

These are in line with a long history of reports concerning what Apple may have up its sleeve for the next iPhone.

Of note is that Apple will switch baseband chip suppliers. It has used Infineon to date to supply the wireless baseband chips, which is that part of the phone that talks to cellular networks. Qualcomm is one of the world's largest makers of baseband chips, and has a long line of capable silicon from which Apple can choose. In particular, Qualcomm makes radio chips that can talk to both GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon Wireless) networks. This could indicate Apple's move to a single, "world" iPhone rather than the two separate GSM/CDMA versions it makes now. Unfortunately, there are no clues about the next-gen iPhone's compatibility with today's 4G networks. Even without 4G, a "world iPhone" could be a boon to business travelers.

The improved camera is perhaps not necessary--the iPhone 4's camera is fantastic as is--but many of the iPhone's top competitors already include 8-megapixel cameras that can capture full 1080p HD video. The iPhone 4's camera rates 5 megapixels and captures 720p HD video.

Whatever the final set of specs turns out to be, Apple is bullish on the device's potential.

"Apple's sales estimates of the new iPhone is quite aggressive. It told us to prepare to help the company meet its goal of 25 million units by the end of the year," one of Apple's suppliers told the Journal. "The initial production volume will be a few million units … we were told to ship the components to assembler Hon Hai in August." Hon Hai is one of the firms Apple has used in the past to assemble iPhones.

Part of the outlook is cloudy, however, as the Journal's sources indicate that the new iPhone is "complicated and difficult to assemble." Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou recently said, "The touch-screen devices are so thin. It's really difficult to install so many components into the iPhones and iPads. We hope to raise the yield rate and volume in the second half, which will help improve our gross margin."

The iPhone 4 is 9.4mm thick. Since its release, competitors have introduced thinner and lighter smartphones that have larger screens. For example, the Samsung Infuse 4G is 8.9mm thick and offers a 4.5-inch display. That's a whole lot more screen than the iPhone 4's 3.5-inch display.

The complicated assembly process could lead to a delay in the device's ship date. Apple has already broken its yearly refresh cycle for new iPhones.

Apple, of course, hasn't shared any details about the next-generation iPhone.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman

Contributor

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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