According to the latest rumors out of Apple’s Far East supply chain, the Cupertino tech-giant is gearing up to make a host of new announcements, including plans to introduce a new lower-cost HomePod smart speaker, a second-generation ‘AirPods 2’ refresh, and most curiously, the elimination of 3D Touch from its entire lineup of 2019 iPhone models.
The news comes this morning courtesy of international investment banking-giant, Barclays — who reportedly sent several of its staff analysts to tour some of Apple’s China-based component suppliers last week.
According to the firm’s research note, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider on Monday, not only can we expect see a refreshed “AirPods 2” launch in time for the 2019 holiday shopping season.
Also in mid- to late-2019, Apple is now rumored to release its affordable HomePod smart speaker.
While both of these products are known to be in the pipeline according to previous reports, Barclay’s timeframe is conflicting.
AirPods 2 could possibly be announced at Apple’s fall 2018 event ahead of an early 2019 release. Other reports previously hinted that a lower-cost HomePod (built to appeal to a broader audience) would be arriving by the end of 2018, at the latest.
Curiously, the Barclay’s report goes on to cite sources who claimed it is “widely understood” that Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup will be the last to feature the company’s intuitive 3D Touch pressure-sensing input technology, noting specifically that 2019 iPhones may not ship with 3D Touch sensors under the display.
The research firm notes that these plans are not finalized, and so the feature “may appear, and it may not.”
It’s not entirely clear why Apple would even bother shelving an intuitive feature like 3D Touch — especially seeing as how an Apple engineer admitted in a tweet back in 2015, that it took an astounding 5 years to develop it!
It could be that the company simply wants to cut iPhone production costs, especially as the price of components continue to rise with their increasing complexity and functionality — but even still, to simply axe such a hyped-up feature like 3D Touch seems counterintuitive of Apple’s culture, at best.
Of course, remember to consider all these predictions with a grain of salt until further notice, as even Barclay’s admits that given they’re drawn from the Far East supply chain, they might might not be the most reliable source for determining Apple’s future product plans.
In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook previously cautioned against the use of such sources as an indicator of his company’s plans, saying specifically that “The supply chain is very complex, and we obviously have multiple sources for things” in a 2013 interview with AppleInsider, while noting specifically how “Yields might vary, supplier performance might vary.”