With the peak period for smartphone shipments arriving, Apple’s iPhone 6s and a host of latest flagship devices from other branded vendors have been made available on the market. Global research firm TrendForce estimates that around 345.9 million smartphones will be shipped this fourth quarter, up 3.7% from the third quarter. Compared with other quarterly periods of this year, the fourth quarter will have the largest smartphone shipment volume, accounting for 27% of the estimated annual shipments of 1.283 billion units. “Expanded smartphone shipments will fuel mobile DRAM demand and limit the decline of its average selling price to within 5% during the fourth quarter,” said Avril Wu, assistant vice president at DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce.
However, Wu also said that with the smartphone market affected by the returning seasonal influence in the first half of 2016, mobile DRAM is forecast to again experience quarterly price declines of 6~8% due to falling demand and increasing supply. Since mobile DRAM market has the most stable price trend compared with PC DRAM and server DRAM markets, the big three DRAM suppliers have continued to shift more of their capacity towards mobile DRAM relative to other applications. The manufacturing of the next generation of mobile DRAM, LPDDR4, requires the 20nm process to advance to a level that can support 8Gb mono-die production. Currently, only Samsung is technologically matured to supply the majority of LPDDR4 on the market. Nonetheless, the share of LPDDR4 in the overall mobile DRAM production is expected to increase significantly in the latter half of 2016, when both SK Hynix and Micron will be making mass shipments of LPDDR4 made on their 21/20nm processes. DRAMeXchange anticipates that this next-generation mobile memory will become the market mainstream by the end of the next year at the earliest, and the surge in its supply will inevitably increase the downward pressure on mobile DRAM prices.