Apple Locks Down iPhone 14 Design as Trial Production Begins | What We Know

iPhone 14 Concept Image Credit: AppleyPro / Twitter
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Although we may not yet have the full picture of what this year’s iPhone 14 will look like, it appears that the design has now been finalized, with Apple’s suppliers moving into the first stage of trial production for this year’s iPhone lineup.

According to Taiwan’s Economic Times (Google Translate), Apple has split up the manufacturing to the iPhone 14 models this year between two of its major partners, with Foxconn expected to produce the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, while the base model iPhone 14 and so-called “iPhone 14 Max” will go to Luxshare.

As we’ve been hearing for a while now, the 5.4-inch iPhone will be riding off into the sunset this year, as Apple shelves that less popular design in favour of unifying the lineup into only two sizes.

The result will be a much cleaner lineup, with two 6.1-inch standard iPhones and two 6.7-inch “Max” iPhones, each available in both Pro and non-pro versions.

From what we’ve heard thus far, the iPhone 14 will maintain the same squared-edge design introduced with the iPhone 12 lineup in 2020, but Apple is rumoured to be increasing the thickness slightly to effectively eliminate the camera bump. Those same renders also suggest a shift to round volume buttons, along with some other minor design changes.

There have also been a flurry of reports claiming various things about the front camera design, with rumours suggesting that the notch will be going away, although nobody has quite agreed yet on whether it will be replaced by a punch-hole camera or a pill-shaped cutout.

Beneath the Surface

In addition to the obvious visual design changes, the new iPhone 14 is also expected to feature the usual performance gains, thanks to Apple’s next-generation CPU, which, we assume, will be called the “A16.”

We’ve also been hearing that Apple may finally boost the main camera to 48MP, although even if this is the case, the working resolution will likely remain as 12MP, with the extra pixels being used to provide enhanced detail and low-light features for Apple’s computational photography engine.

These camera improvements would also see the video recording resolution quality increased to 8K, which seems like the next logical step, and of course is something that the iPhone’s biggest competitor can already handle. Whether we’ll be able to do 8K at 60fps is another question, however.

There’s also a good possibility that the iPhone 14 Pro will ship with 8GB of RAM — 2GB more than the iPhone 13 Pro. While Apple doesn’t normally bring up specs like this, the boost in RAM would certainly help provide performance improvements, and would likely be crucial to handle some of the advanced photography and videography features that Apple is working on.

Lastly, there are also rumours that the iPhone 14 could be the first model without a physical SIM card slot. There’s little doubt that Apple is working on this, and with more carriers supporting eSIM, it’s a natural evolution of cellular technology. However, it’s an open question whether this will be the year it arrives in any form.

We’re likely years away from Apple ditching the SIM card slot across the entire lineup. In fact, iPhone models sold in China still have two physical SIM card slots, so it would be a massive change for that market. Most likely, Apple will start producing at least one eSIM-only version of the iPhone within the next year or two, but it will be exclusive to those countries that support it — and those carriers that actually want it.

What Is Trial Production?

Now that the iPhone 14 has reportedly entered trial production, it’s fair to say that Apple has finalized its intended design. In other words, the iPhone 14 lineup looks the way Apple wants it to look — assuming that it can actually be produced that way.

However, the purpose of trial production is for Apple’s manufacturing partners to make sure this is possible. This stage is where they evaluate the production process to collect data, look for abnormalities, and assess whether the results are actually acceptable.

In the unlikely event Foxconn or Luxshare run into problems, it’s possible that Apple could have to make some tweaks to the design, or even scrap it entirely if it’s too ambitious.

While this is rare, it’s possible this happened with last year’s Apple Watch Series 7, as rumours of a big design appeared in early 2021 that never panned out into an actual product.

However, even though some believed that Apple switched the design of the Apple Watch at the last minute, that’s extremely unlikely for numerous reasons. Not the least of these is that, as we can see from this report on the iPhone 14, Apple does these kinds of trial runs months ahead of time. So, if the rumoured Apple Watch redesign was ever intended for the Series 7 in the first place, it was a design that Apple would have scrapped around this time last year — not mere days before Apple’s event.

Of course, it’s fairly easy to understand how an Apple Watch update that was as pedestrian as the Series 7 would have flown under the radar, the iPhone 14 is a much higher-profile device that’s being closely watched by every tech leaker on the planet.

Until now, we’ve only been seeing renders of possible iPhone 14 designs, but now that Apple has locked down the production, we’ll hopefully start seeing more solid information on what the final version will eventually look like.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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