[News] Tata Group Plans to Build New iPhone Assembly Plant in India, Aligning with Apple’s Localization Strategy for the Supply Chain

Apple’s iPhone is gaining even more popularity in India, with Tata Group, India’s conglomerate, reportedly preparing to build a new iPhone assembly plant. According to Bloomberg, this move aligns with Apple’s broader manufacturing strategy expansion in India.

Previously reported by TrendForce, Apple’s decision to opt for India is primarily due to the fact that since 2015, India has become the fastest-growing regional market for smartphones globally. Earlier in October this year, Tata Group officially acquired Wistron’s subsidiary in Bengaluru, primarily responsible for assembling orders for the iPhone 14. 

According to sources from Bloomberg, Tata Group is not only recruiting new staff for this facility but also planning to build the largest iPhone assembly plant in the town of Hosur, Tamil Nadu, India.

The new facility is expected to establish 20 assembly lines, planning to employ approximately 50,000 workers within the next 2 years. It is slated to be operational within 12 to 18 months. However, the existing government-supported PLI (Production-Linked Incentive) fiscal incentives will expire around the time of operation. Therefore, Apple and Tata Group may seek new subsidies from the government for the production of the new iPhones.

Apple has been actively expanding in India, and the new iPhone assembly plant is a crucial strategy for both companies. For Apple, it serves to diversify the supply chain risk by gradually shifting the assembly of iPhones from China to India. Meanwhile, Tata Group aims to expand its traditional business scope.

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(Photo credit: Apple)

Please note that this article cites information from Bloomberg and TechNews.


[News] Bezel-Less iPhone on the Horizon? LG Innotek Rumored to Develop Under-Panel Camera

In the pursuit of a larger screen-to-body ratio, smartphones adopting a “bezel-less” design have become a trend. According to a report from the Korean media outlet “The Elec,” rumors in the market suggest that Apple’s iPhone 17 Pro, expected to be released in 2025, will achieve a “100% bezel-less” look, with supplier LG Innotek reportedly developing an under-display camera. This innovation could potentially become a major selling point for the new iPhone series.

LG Innotek, a major South Korean smartphone camera module manufacturer, is actively working on developing an Under-Panel Camera (UPC) in response to the specific requirements of its important customer, Apple.

The concept involves completely hiding the camera components beneath the screen, eliminating the need for a camera notch. This approach aims to offer a seamless, all-screen experience, and it is anticipated that iPhones featuring under-display cameras could be introduced within the next few years.

However, the report further indicated from its sources that, currently, Apple is more likely to adopt specifications for under-display Face ID rather than UPC.

The reason behind this lies in the fact that under-display cameras come with certain drawbacks. Since the camera is under the display panel, the light transmission of the cover glass can affect the entry of light into the image sensor. Poor resolution and the inability to support high-speed continuous shooting are common fatal flaws associated with under-display cameras.

Nevertheless, according to “The Elec”, in an attempt to overcome these drawbacks, LG Innotek is working on incorporating a free-curve prism under the display for UPC. This hardware enhancement aims to improve the light transmission of the camera under the screen, addressing the issues of low transparency and poor imaging quality.

However, an industry source has pointed out that it is currently uncertain when Apple will actually use the under-display cameras produced by LG Innotek. Reportedly, according to insiders, Apple is not entirely satisfied with the samples provided by LG Innotek.

As early as 2021, Apple’s competitor Samsung had already introduced the Z Fold 3 with an under-display camera design, but the image quality of the camera was significantly inferior to that of traditional punch-hole cameras.

(Photo credit: LG Innotek)

Please note that this article cites information from TheLec and TechNews.


[News] Revival for Smartphone Panels! Surging Demand from Huawei’s New Models and Customer Stockpiling Propel AMOLED Prices

According to TechNews’ report, after a prolonged period of price suppression in the mobile panel market, there has been an upswing in demand since the end of the second quarter, as customer inventories have reached a turning point.

The report further quoted industry sources, stating that the increased demand is notably driven by Huawei’s new models, and other customers initiating stockpiling for new models. This gradual increase in demand is raising AMOLED panel utilization rates, subsequently leading to a price uptick, which is also influencing LTPS LCD panel prices.

Previously reported by IJIWEI, the robust demand for Huawei’s Mate 60 series smartphones is expected to contribute to a total annual smartphone shipment of 40 to 50 million units. This surpasses the previous year’s shipments of 30 million units by 30 to 70%.

Industry insiders cited by South Korean media indicate that Huawei’s shipping target for the next year is 100 million units, surpassing market research company predictions by over 40%, which estimated around 70 million units.

The demand for Huawei’s new smartphone models is on the rise, especially as its high-end products extensively adopt LTPO backplane technology, occupying a portion of panel manufacturers’ capacity. Additionally, other customers initiating preparations for new models have contributed to the surge in demand, bringing China’s AMOLED panel capacity back to 80-90%.

Looking ahead to next year, the demand for AMOLED panels will still need to be monitored, particularly around the Lunar New Year. If demand continues to grow steadily, it will likely support panel prices.

As for the crucial component, OLED DDI (Display Driver IC), the process is gradually shifting from 40nm to 28nm. Currently, only UMC (United Microelectronics Corporation) globally can mass-produce the 28nm HV (High Voltage) process required for OLED DDI, while SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) employs the 40nm HV process.

With TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) set to join the 28nm HV process in 2025, there is no imminent shortage of supply. Therefore, the price increase in AMOLED panels may have limited impact on OLED DDI prices, and the fourth quarter and the first quarter of next year are likely to maintain a stable trend.

Please note that this article cites information from TechNews

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(Photo credit: Huawei)


[News] Foxconn Invests Over USD 1.5 Billion in Expansive Production in India, Creating a New Hub for iPhone Manufacturing

Foxconn has announced plans to invest over USD 1.5 billion in expanding its facilities in India. This substantial investment, a rarity in recent years, has sparked speculation that Foxconn is preparing for the introduction of new iPhone products in India.

Due to reports suggesting that in the second half of 2024, Apple will initiate the design, development, and trial production process for the iPhone 17 in India, if true, this would mark the first time in iPhone history that a New Product Introduction (NPI) is conducted outside of China, solidifying India as a potential global iPhone production hub.

Foxconn’s subsidiary, Foxconn Hon Hai Technology India Mega Development Private Limited, disclosed the plan to build the factory locally, with an expected investment of INR 128.209 billion (approximately USD 1.537 billion). This move is seen as a strategic effort to enhance iPhone production capacity in India.

According to TrendForce’s estimate, the proportion of iPhones produced in India is still below 10% in 2023, expected to reach 25-30% by 2025, and projected to achieve 35-40% by 2028. TrendForce believes that with the stable production base of Foxconn in India, it can indeed expand the output.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities disclosed that Apple is placing a growing emphasis on the Indian market. The company intends to kick off the NPI process for the standard edition of the iPhone 17, slated for release in the second half of 2025, in India during the latter part of 2024.

Kuo further highlighted that this development signifies the first instance of a new iPhone model being developed outside of China. Choosing the standard version of the iPhone for development lowers the design complexity, reducing risks. This year, 75-80% of iPhones produced in India are manufactured by Foxconn.

According to a previous report by Indian media Economic Times, Foxconn’s factory in Tamil Nadu, India, has been producing the iPhone 15 Plus in the fourth quarter of this year and has already started production of the standard version of the iPhone 15.

Before the iPhone 14, only a small portion of Apple’s phones were assembled in India, with shipments lagging six to nine months behind those in mainland China. However, this year, India has officially entered the supply chain for the initial batch of new iPhones.

Foxconn’s India representative, V Lee, previously stated that the company was “aiming for another doubling of employment, FDI (foreign direct investment), and business size in India” by next year. However, no further details were provided.

In other product areas, there have been recent reports that three subsidiaries of the Foxconn Group will be among the first approved list of incentives for information technology (IT) production in India. Foxconn Group is also accelerating its layout for manufacturing and components in India.

(Photo credit: Apple)


[Report Highlights] Huawei Kirin Chip Renaissance and New Smartphone Surges

  1. Huawei sticks to a low-key strategy, opting for understated smartphone launches.

Contrary to expectations, the recent Huawei Autumn 2023 Launch Conference took an unexpectedly subdued tone. The much-anticipated Mate 60 Pro, believed to be the star of the show, received only a brief mention, leaving enthusiasts and industry watchers surprised.

This strategic shift can be deciphered by considering Huawei’s established strong brand loyalty among Chinese consumers. Previously hampered by the unavailability of 5G chips due to U.S. trade restrictions, Huawei has managed to overcome these hurdles. The recent successful sales of its new devices in China suggest that a flamboyant presentation of specifications at launch events might not yield substantial benefits. In fact, it could inadvertently be interpreted as a provocation amid the escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.

Therefore, in light of the strained bilateral relations, it is projected that Huawei will continue adopting a discreet approach, with future smartphone releases likely avoiding the spotlight at launch events.

  1. Maturation of the smartphone industry poses challenges for brands seeking innovation.

Despite Huawei’s success in developing its own 5G-compatible chips amidst U.S. sanctions, the latest smartphone lack groundbreaking features. Innovations such as satellite communication or advanced camera modules (with periscope lenses and variable apertures) are conspicuously absent. Even in the flagship Mate 60 RS model, the emphasis shifts to the distinctive ceramic material on the back shell.

  1. Anticipated rise in China’s domestic production ratio.

Before the U.S. sanctions, Huawei heavily relied on foreign suppliers for smartphone components, including RF, baseband, memory, and sensor chips, complementing its self-developed Kirin chips. However, the restrictive policy have compelled Huawei to shift its dependency to domestic Chinese manufacturers.

In the nearly three-year period from the imposition of U.S. sanctions to the recent release of Huawei’s new 5G smartphone, the industry expected Huawei and its supply chain to suffer severe setbacks. However, the China-made ratio of components in Huawei’s new smartphone currently stands at an impressive 90%, with only the DRAM incorporating SK Hynix products.

With Huawei’s return, it is poised to catalyze growth throughout its supply chain. The ongoing trajectory suggests a continual increase in the domestic production ratio of future devices in China.

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