Apple may be gearing up to begin production for its 2018 iPhone lineup, with a particular focus on a mid-range LCD-based iPhone.
The Cupertino-based tech giant is largely expected to release three iPhone devices this year: a 5.8-inch iPhone X successor; an iPhone X Plus with a 6.5-inch OLED display; and a mid-range iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD-based display.
All three devices are rumored to sport a TrueDepth Camera and Face ID.
All in all, total iPhone production could total 80 to 90 million units in the second half of this year, according to a new report penned by RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani.
Interestingly, Daryanani expects half of that total production number to be made up of the mid-range LCD iPhone.
That 80-to-90 million unit mark is slightly down from the 100 million unit production of the iPhone 8 and X cycle. But RBC Capital attributes that decline mostly to supply chain partners “managing inventory levels more diligently.”
In addition, Daryanani wrote that Apple is likely to focus on “incrementally tighter cost management,” which could result in a wider range of features — like Face ID and an edge-to-edge display — being included on the entire 2018 lineup.
According to RBC Capital, production could kick off on a regular schedule next month. That’s similar to last year’s timeline, when the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus assembly process began in May 2017 — although production issues prevented the iPhone X from following a similar production schedule.
It’s worth noting that Apple has largely resolved most if not all of those production issues, which could suggest smoother sailing for the company’s release timeline this year. That could prove to be especially important if all three iPhones are equipped with a TrueDepth camera, a sensitive component which snarled iPhone X production last year.
Daryanani’s report largely coincides with previous rumors about this year’s stable of iPhones. Back in November, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first predicted a three-iPhone lineup that included a lower-cost LCD model with a larger base display.
RBC’s AAPL Forecast
RBC Capital Markets expects an upside scenario to involve a more rapid growth of Apple’s services business — which could include gross margins over 40 percent. On the flip side, a downside scenario could Apple losing overall smartphone and tablet market share.
All in all, Daryanani said Apple’s current valuation is “materially sub-par” to what RBC Capital anticipates as far as the long-term revenue and earnings-per-share potential. The analyst’s forecast is based on first-hand information out of Apple’s supply chain, the firm noted.
RBC is maintaining its optimism for Apple due to a variety of factors — including the impending iPhone release, upcoming Mac and iPad refreshes, potential new products or services, and recently passed tax reform legislation.
The Toronto-based investment bank is maintaining its AAPL target price of $203. An upside scenario could see that number bumped up to $230, while RBC forecasts a downside AAPL price of $140.