Mark Gurman: Apple’s iPhone engineers are working on a ‘complete redesign’

From Gurman’s “It’s time to talk about the iPhone 14” mailed Sunday to his Bloomberg ($) Power On subscribers:

Compared with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is no major step up. But this phone is clearly meant to spur upgrades from pre-5G iPhone models, and it will hold Apple over until more significant iPhone changes arrive over the next few years…

That means the iPhone 13 is a safe upgrade for anyone with an iPhone 11 or earlier. But it’s a harder sell if you have the iPhone 12—a massive update that had a revamped design and 5G support. The newest phone just gets some tweaks.

Apple will have to get more dramatic with next year’s overhaul, especially as competition mounts. Samsung Electronics Co., Google and others are now unleashing their best. Samsung is pushing foldable phones, and Apple is working on its own foldable device that it could release in a few years.

The minor changes this year also mean that Apple’s engineers were working behind the scenes on bigger things that will take more time. With the iPhone 14, you can expect new entry-level and Pro models and a complete redesign. Until then, enjoy the iPhone 13—or just stick with the iPhone 12.

My take: Note that unlike Ming-Chi Kuo, Gurman had the grace to wait until after the release of the iPhone 13 before declaring it was time to start talking about the iPhone 14.

22 Comments

  1. Chris Ferebee said:
    Maybe I post too much on Instagram, but for me the upgrade from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the iPhone 13 Pro Max is worth it just for the new macro capability. Especially considering the top-notch resale price I’m getting for my 12.

    8
    September 26, 2021
    • Hugh Lovell said:
      I got my iPhone 13 Pro Max last Friday. On Monday I’m sending in my 12 ProMax and getting half the cost of the 13 knocked off. This makes the annual upgrade cycle, which I’ve been doing for several years, very affordable for me. Plus I get the latest camera tech, which, frankly, I love.

      6
      September 26, 2021
  2. Robert Stack said:
    Uh..ok Mark. Quite the revelation there that the 14 will be a major redesign. Apple does complete redesigns of the iPhone like…lemme see now…about once every two years. And the last major redesign was for the iPhone 12.

    I guess to say relevant as as a prognosticator sometimes one just has to prognosticate, no mater how trivial. So best to add in some speculation to spice up the story a bit, whether based on “tips” or not, and you have a recipe for another successful “story”.

    0
    September 26, 2021
  3. Daniel Epstein said:
    I actually think the Gurman’s and Kuo’s of the world have agenda’s they advance by using the public’s interest in Apple’s products to promote themselves and maybe even profit from discouraging consumers from buying available Apple products now because there is something coming which they should wait for. If they still are printing out this information it should just be used to line the bird cage.
    First I would be surprised if Apple wasn’t working on new and improved products all the time. Unless they are planning to discontinue a product line or somehow think the product has arrived at the limits of improvement but still needs to be sold of course they are researching upgrades etc. This is just good product support and development.
    With the iPhone 13 arriving in stores last Friday I think any iphone 14 rumors should be basically ignored for at least 4 to 6 months. Let’s figure out what the current new models can and cannot do before dealing with speculation about future releases.

    4
    September 26, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I actually think the Gurman’s and Kuo’s of the world have agenda’s they advance by using the public’s interest in Apple’s products to promote themselves

      ABSOLUTELY

      I reread Guzman’s missive three times and couldn’t find anything of substance, nothing on shape, size, type of screen, etc., just a vague speculation that the 14 will be a major redesign.

      As to profiting by depressing iPhone 13 sales, I don’t think German has that kind of influence anymore.

      Hat’s off to Horace’s comment.

      1
      September 26, 2021
  4. Bruce Oran said:
    Based on his past accuracy and his nod to appropriate timing it would not shock me if Gurman works closely with someone high up in the food chain at Apple. I also believe it is probably with Apple’s full knowledge and consent. Working closely with trade journalists is an old practice I am certain PED can speak to. There is a certain element of I scratch your back (good scoops) and you scratch our back (generally favorable coverage with an occasional zing to keep credibility). Just a thought.

    1
    September 26, 2021
  5. Horace Dediu said:
    Whatever is in the 14 has been decided and “worked on” long ago. Engineers working on fundamentals now are working on something that will ship in 2025.

    9
    September 26, 2021
  6. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Samsung is pushing foldable phones, and Apple is working on its own foldable device that it could release in a few years.”

    I have written previously my deep conviction that Apple will not ignore the competitive race to design, manufacture and offer-up a brilliant “foldable” phone.

    Many consumers long for larger real estate in phone screens, but desire smaller phone casings. I quickly would purchase the iPhone Pro Max if I could sit down in a seat with the Max in my pants pockets. I long for the Pro Max screen size, but not for that phone’s casing size.

    For those who travel the Asian continent you know that larger screen sizes always have been in demand from the days of the “phablets.” Apple was late to market with larger screen sizes in the era of the phablets. But Apple arrived eventually to conquer. Apple will do similarly with the “foldable” phone.

    Economics and commerce drive larger phone screens in the Asian continent. Consumers there do not have the economic luxury of owning multiple devices with differing screen sizes. They need one truly portable device with larger viewing real estate to cover multiple lifestyles offerings. This fact also is becoming true in the West. Many consumers desire that one device to serve a large number of purposes for which multiple devices once covered.

    In summary: expect Apple to design, manufacture and sell a premium foldable phone in the next few years. I never previously thought that I would be a buyer of a foldable phone but I now am getting stirred emotionally over the thought that one is coming; designed by Apple in California.

    0
    September 26, 2021
  7. Fred Stein said:
    Regardless of the ethics or accuracy of selling stolen info, Gurman’s insights miss the mark.

    1) The 13 is a big upgrade: It’s the synergy of the iPhone 13’s imaging technology, including the sensors, the wide to 3X telephoto range, the image processing chips, and the imaging software stack.

    2) With the 13, the iPhone stays ahead of Samsung and Google.

    3) Foldable? Korea Herald predicts foldable reaches 9M unit sales this year out of 1,535M (Statista) total smartphone sales, less than .6%. About 10M to 15M Androids switch to iPhone annually per Gene Munster.

    6
    September 26, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      The Korea Herald article cites a 9M total Foldables sales market estimate by Counterpoint Research, published Aug. 5, 2021 just before the Samsung Fold 3/Flex 3 were unveiled. IMO, this estimate is overly optimistic, growing 3x over 2020 where 2.5M-3M units were sold, Samsung accounting for 85-90%.

      The Korea Times quotes research firm DSCC projecting 5.5M 2021 sales, double the 2.3M of 2020 (note the differences in numbers from different research firms). Samsung is said to have an internal goal of 6-6.5M unit sales but preparing for a “practical” goal of between 3.5-4M units. Separately, The Elec in Sept. quotes the same DSCC as saying Samsung should ship ~7M Foldables, perhaps on the strength of early home market S. Korean preorders. However, DSCC also noted “Samsung is spending too much in marketing for the devices…planning on spending $2B USD to promote the devices, which is equal to 53% of Samsung Mobile’s operating income for the 3rd quarter and 69% of its operating income in the 2nd quarter…It remains to be seen whether the high marketing costs will effect (sic) Samsung Mobile’s operating income during the second half of the year.”

      IMO, The big issue for Samsung and the entire Foldables supply chain is the dismal production yield of foldable displays. Korea Herald reported Samsung Display is increasing Vietnam display factory production from 17M to 25M units for 2021-2022. This for a total market size of 7-9M units? A theoretical total of 10M Z-Fold and 15M Z-Flip units assuming 100% useful displays? Unlikely.

      DSCC itself projects 2021 foldable panel shipments of ~9M panels, 6.6M phones produced and 5.6M 5.6M units shipped. This suggests a yield at best of 73%, and a shipped yield of about ~60%.

      0
      September 27, 2021
      • Bart Yee said:
        All of the above is to say that while great strides are being made in foldable display technology and Samsung Display, Corning, BOE, and others are working feverishly on foldable smartphone displays, the number of total foldable units from Samsung and Chinese makers is a still vanishingly small niche fraught with high production costs and technical issues that continue to be developed and solved. Here, being “first” is also being a costly engineering exercise while trying to create a new market. IMO, if Apple were to actually introduce a Foldable iPhone, Apple will NOT do so unless it’s supply chain can provide displays at decent costs, production yields, and most importantly quality and quantity levels commensurate with Apple’s anticipated volumes, meaning 10-20M units per year, and at a margin that makes sense. Let other in the display industry grapple with the costs of development while Apple works on the overall designs. And even then, the green light get lit ONLY when Apple feels there is an addressable and sufficient market to make Foldable iPhones worthwhile. If it isn’t profitable in the long run, it’s a dead end market IMO.

        That is why pronouncements that by this year or that year Apple will introduce something is laughable. Only when Apple can do it the right way and the Apple way will a product be introduced. Otherwise, it remains R&D.

        1
        September 27, 2021
        • Fred Stein said:
          I share your skepticism about foldable SmartPhones.

          Apple especially won’t ship them until they know that can build such devices with much higher manufacturing yields and endure 4 years of rough handling by users.

          The ‘flip’ model, while cool, adds nothing. It does not give users the bigger screen they crave. So we have to remove that form factor from the TAM for foldables.

          0
          September 27, 2021
  8. Robert Stack said:
    Apologies for this being OT:

    While for me Bill Maher can be either hit or miss, on Friday’s show he hit it out of the park with this short interview with Tristan Harris. Harris succinctly but eloquently discusses Facebook’s business model, how they structure their algorithms, and the cumulative effect they have had on society. Great piece IMO!

    3
    September 26, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I think revelations about Facebook’s business model and how it manipulates discussion is going to lead to some serious regulatory oversight.

      1
      September 26, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      Thanks. Actually on topic, in a way.

      Gurman plays to the cheap seats to get clicks.

      Surely he knows that Samsung and Google are not ahead and not a threat. His algo is the OMG AAPL meme. No need for a supercomputers to come up with that. Bloomberg, like FB, won’t touch him for the same reason, ad revenue.

      0
      September 27, 2021
  9. David Drinkwater said:
    He really doesn’t say anything about the iPhone 14, so why say it’s time to talk about it? Pretty disappointing clock-bait from someone who should do much better.

    3
    September 26, 2021
  10. Gregg Thurman said:
    He really doesn’t say anything…about anything. Great observation David.

    0
    September 26, 2021
  11. Jonny T said:
    Mark Gurman is frankly just plain boring. So he gets odd bits right once in a while. Which means anyone on the forum would be able to achieve exactly that or even better.

    And yes, I hope Apple has some canny schemes running to entrap the leakers who don’t deserve to have jobs at Apple.

    0
    September 27, 2021
  12. bas flik said:
    today i had a samsung foldable phone in my hands.
    worked very good.
    apple should quickly develop a foldable one
    if you see one, you want one.
    i am still stucked with samsung s9
    have to upgrade to a s10 which i already bought months ago
    but now i want a foldable.
    normal phones are too small for email,
    with foldable email works great.
    to be honest samsung foldable looks truly impressive.
    nice niche market for apple.

    1
    September 27, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      Gentle reminder that Apple does not do niche products. Tim was clear about that in his answer to Katy Huberty’s question about what product Apple might introduce in the future.

      0
      September 27, 2021

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