iPhone X Plus Expected to Spur Massive Upgrade Supercycle

Iphone X Plus Concept Image Credit: Martin Hajek
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A new supply chain report suggests that Apple believes its largest 2018 iPhone will also be its most popular.

Apple has apparently placed orders for 45 million 6.5-inch OLED panels for the so-called iPhone X Plus, Korea-based publication The Bell reported. For comparison, that piece reports that Apple has ordered 25 million panels for the iPhone X successor and about 30 million panels for the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone.

If the report turns out to be accurate, it could hint that Apple is expecting its largest (and presumably most expensive) iPhone this year to be the best-selling model.

The iPhone X Plus is rumored to occupy the top tier of the three-iPhone lineup this year. Its stablemates will be a direct iPhone X successor with a 5.8-inch OLED, and a rumored mid-range iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD display.

There is a precedent for that sort of demand, however. Larger smartphones are becoming increasingly popular among consumers. And despite analyst concerns about the iPhone X’s pricing dissuading potential buyers, the company’s 2017 flagship is selling just fine.

LCD iPhone Delayed?

Of course, there might be other factors at play. The Bell has previously reported that the lower-cost 6.1-inch iPhone could be delayed due to the difficulties of forming an LCD display around a sensor cutout.

Because of the nature of LCD displays, there are inherent difficulties in forming the technology around a design element like a notch. Apple’s suppliers are reportedly not running into those difficulties on its OLED devices.

It’s worth noting that The Bell doesn’t have an established track record of accurately predicting Apple’s moves. It’s also not clear where The Bell got its information, other than a source within the supply chain.

The Bigger Picture

There’s also quite a bit of disagreement over Apple’s larger supply chain situation this year.

Earlier in June, a Nikkei report painted a rather grim picture of the demand for Apple’s iPhones later this year. An unnamed source told the publication that total iPhone supply orders could be “up to 20 percent fewer than last year’s orders.”

A couple days later, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty countered with her own analysis of the supply chain.

Huberty noted that Apple ordered 89 million devices, rather than the 100 million suggested by Nikkei. With that in mind, 2018’s order of 90 million devices actually represents a slight increase from the previous year.

Supply chain analysis can be spotty, of course. Just think of the doom-and-gloom predictions surrounding last year’s iPhone X sales. That’s why it’s important to take any forecasts and predictions with a grain of salt.

In other words, we won’t know how many iPhones Apple will sell — or which particular models do best — until the company firms its sales numbers in an earnings report.

Read iPhone X Overview

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