One of the best things about the Apple Watch is that you can transform its appearance to match your lifestyle and fashion thanks to an ever-growing collection of Watch bands. Apple keeps launching new Watch bands that you can add to your collection, including a few straps that certainly deserve your attention. In fact, of all the Watch bands in Apple’s Spring 2018 collection that debuted on Wednesday morning, there’s at least one that stands out: The Nike Sports Loop.
Nike’s Apple Watch band was never available as a standalone purchase, but Apple is finally letting Watch owners buy the sport accessory by itself. The Nike Sport Loop comes in a variety of colors, including Black/Pure Platinum, Bright Crimson/Black, Cargo Khaki, Midnight Fog and Pearl Pink.
On top of that, Apple added a bunch of first-party bands to its Spring collection, which will be available for purchase online and in stores later this month.
The new models come in “vibrant colors and unique designs,” across Watch band families. The Spring collection brings new additions to the company’s collection of Woven Nylon brands, as well as new colors for the Apple Watch Hermes series, which look absolutely gorgeous. The Hermes straps are also the most expensive of the bunch.
Here are all the new Watch band models, and their prices:
Sport Band in Denim Blue, Lemonade and Red Raspberry ($ 49)
Woven Nylon in Black Stripe, Blue Stripe, Gray Stripe and Pink Stripe ($ 49)
Sport Loop in Flash Light, Hot Pink, Marine Green and Tahoe Blue ($ 49)
Classic Buckle in Spring Yellow, Electric Blue and Soft Pink ($ 149)
Apple Watch Nike+
Nike Sport in Barely Rose/Pearl Pink, Black/White and Cargo Khaki/Black ($ 49)
Nike Sport Loop in Black/Pure Platinum, Bright Crimson/Black, Cargo Khaki, Midnight Fog and Pearl Pink ($ 49)
Apple Watch Hermes
38mm Double Tour in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop ($ 489)
38mm Double Tour in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop ($ 489)
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop ($ 439)
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop ($ 439)
If those prices are a bit too rich for your blood, don’t worry — Amazon still has about a million different options for affordable Apple Watch bands on its site.
Apple’s iPhone X is significantly below expectations, some reports say, while others claim the opposite. The $ 999 entry price is one of the main reasons why the iPhone X isn’t selling as good as some expected. There are plenty of ways to make it more tolerable, including trade-in deals and installment plans. But that’s still plenty of money to pay for a smartphone, especially in international markets.
A new report now claims that Apple’s next-gen 5.85-inch OLED iPhone X will be cheaper to produce. But will it be less expensive for customers?
Apple was able to reduce the manufacturing bill of materials by 10% for this year’s cheapest iPhone X model, Digitimes Research analyst Luke Lin discovered. The iPhone X currently costs more than $ 400 to make. Apple has reportedly finalized its lineup for the 2018 iPhone X series. We’re looking at three smartphones in total, including two OLED-based iPhones (5.85-inch and 6.45-inch) and an LCD model (6.1-inch).
The 2018 5.85-inch iPhone X might be priced as the cheapest option of the three, Lin says, without specifying an actual price quote. Apple could always keep in place the $ 999 price tag for the cheapest iPhone X, but that would mean it would have no brand new iPhone in the $ 650 to $ 850 price range.
Apple had been working on a 5.85-inch LCD iPhone X, the report notes, but that version was recently dropped.
The cost of OLED panels is one reason why the iPhone X is so expensive. But it looks like Apple reached an agreement with Samsung Display to secure “satisfactory terms” that will prevent cost increases in the future. The report also notes that Apple pulled in a lot fewer OELD panels from Samsung than it had committed.
Digitimes says that some of the recent 2018 5.8-inch iPhone X engineering samples adopted “lower-level specifications or lower capacities” than those of the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, with LPDDR memory being one of the major differences. Does that mean the cheaper iPhone X will have less RAM? Or worse RAM? We have no idea at this point, and these are unconfirmed rumors.
More than four months after hitting store shelves, it’s hard to say with any certainty how the iPhone X is doing. This, of course, is partially due to the fact that the iPhone X launched in the middle of the 2017 holiday quarter and was supply constrained for a good few weeks afterwards. Indeed, we won’t get a truly clear view on how the iPhone X is doing until Apple releases its earnings report for Q1 2018 next month.
In the meantime, we’ve seen a new narrative emerge surrounding the iPhone X, namely that Apple’s flagship smartphone hasn’t been selling as well as expected. Earlier this week, for example, an investor note from Longbow Research relayed that the “iPhone X didn’t sell well during the holiday season.” What’s more, there have been a handful of reports claiming that poor sales prompted Apple to slash iPhone X orders in half for the current quarter.
More recently, a new research note from Cowen & Company (via AppleInsider) claims that while iPhone X production has aligned with expectations during the current quarter, demand may drop significantly in the weeks ahead.
While overall units are largely unchanged, build expectations for the [iPhone] X continue to be curtailed,” writes Ackerman, suggesting the second quarterly production will result in 17 million units, down from the month-ago prediction of 21 million.
Going into the second quarter, the demand momentum for iPhones as a whole is thought to be under expectations based on the firm’s field work, with a “more concrete view” of second quarter production putting the device family at approximately 42.5 million units.
As to why iPhone X demand might be falling, a recent survey from Piper Jaffray revealed that many iPhone X users opted not to upgrade because the iPhone X — with its $ 999 starting price — was simply too expensive.
A few years ago, there were rumors that Apple was interested in developing its own branded car, an idea that made little to no sense for a number of reasons. Since then, word has surfaced that Apple’s interest in the automotive field has undergone a marked shift. Rather than developing a car from scratch, Apple now appears to be singularly focused on developing self-driving car technologies. And in a rare admission for the notoriously secretive company, Tim Cook this past June confirmed that Apple was in fact working on “autonomous systems” for cars, an initiative Cook dubbed the “mother of all AI projects.”
Last we heard, Apple’s self-driving car initiative includes dozens of test vehicles, a good number of which are Lexus SUVs. Indeed, there have even been a few sightings of Apple test vehicles outfitted with an assortment of advanced LIDAR sensors. Without question, self-driving car technology has the potential to completely upend the way we travel, and Apple is seemingly working hard to ensure that a future filled with self-driving cars will not belong exclusively to companies like Tesla and Uber.
That said, a new report from the Financial Times reveals that Apple over the past few months has added upwards of 18 new self-driving test vehicles to its fleet and now has an estimated 45 in total. All told, Apple now has more test vehicles at its disposal than both Uber and even Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division.
Waymo’s fleet reduction in California means it now has fewer vehicles testing in its home state than rivals Tesla, Uber and Apple. Uber has permits to test 29 cars there — though it has now suspended testing everywhere following Sunday’s crash — while Tesla has 39 permits, according to the DMV.
All three are now exceeded by Apple’s testing fleet, which has expanded rapidly in recent months. After first receiving a permit to test just three autonomous vehicles in April last year, that figure jumped to 27 in January.
As for Apple’s end-game with all of this, well, that remains to be seen. It is worth noting, though, that Tim Cook earlier this year said that Apple is already working on products and technologies that won’t see the light of day until the 2020s.
Apple is working on a secret display technology that will soon be used in its products, including the iPhone. While Apple may be operating its MicroLED facilities in secrecy, in Taiwan first, and now in California, MicroLED tech isn’t exactly a secret, and Apple isn’t the only company working on the future of screens.
But Apple appears to be very aggressive about defending its innovations in a field that’s dominated by its rivals.
How is Apple protecting its own inventions related to a crucial piece of technology? By filing patents, of course. Not just anywhere, mind you, but in Korea, the home of Samsung Display and LG Display.
We’re used to seeing Apple file a ton of patents in the US, as the company, but The Korea Herald draws our attention to an increased patent activity in Korea.
Apple applied for 11 MicroLED patents in the region over the last 10 years while LuxVue Technology, a company that Apple purchased in 2014, applied for 23 MicroLED patents during the same timeframe. In total, Apple has more than 30 patents to defend its MicroLED screen innovations.
Samsung and LG have filed plenty of patents during the same period. Samsung’s Display unit has 24 patents, and LG Display applied for 35 patents. On top of that, Samsung Electronics also has 24 patents, and LG Electronics has 29 patents on MicroLED display tech.
MicroLED screens would help Apple reduce the thickness of the iPhone’s display while increasing power efficiency and screen performance. The Apple Watch is the first Apple device rumored to get a MicroLED display. One other application for MicroLED tech is AR and VR headgear. And Apple is reportedly building its own AR headset.
Moving display tech in-house could also help Apple protect some iPhone design secrets on top of reducing its resilience on competitors for this critical iPhone component. A few months ago, a report said that Apple is working on a secret iPhone project with LG so that Samsung can’t have access to it. That project, rumors said, concerns iPhones with foldable displays.
Until the Galaxy S9 rolled along, the iPhone X had the best OLED display ever made for a smartphone. That’s not all of Samsung’s doing. The Korean company might be the only company that manufactures OLED screens for the iPhone, but these screens are made according to Apple’s specifications. Also, Samsung’s OLED display deals with Apple were inked long before the iPhone X rolled out, which means Samsung had knowledge of Apple’s iPhone display plans well in advance.
Samsung, meanwhile, unveiled a 146-inch MicroLED TV at CES 2018. It’s unclear when the technology will be used in Galaxy phones.
In the smartphone industry, a pattern has developed over the past decade. Whether or not Apple is first with a new key technology or design, Android phone makers try as hard as they can to copy Apple’s iPhone as quickly as they can. There’s an endless supply of examples, but two in particular pertain to this article.
Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s in 2013, and it was the first iPhone to feature a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Apple wasn’t the first smartphone maker to produce a phone with a fingerprint scanner, but no other vendors even batted an eye when companies like Motorola and HTC included the tech on their phones. Once Apple introduced Touch ID, however, every other phone maker on the planet rushed to add fingerprint sensor tech to their phones. Now, it’s next to impossible to find a globally available Android phone without biometric authentication facilitated by a fingerprint sensor.
Another example of Android phone makers playing follow the Apple is the notched display design Apple introduced on the iPhone X, and this example is even more pertinent to a new report issued early Tuesday morning.
In August last year, a smartphone startup called Essential released its first handset. The phone was among featured a new all-screen design with a small, round cutout at the top of the display for the front-facing camera. Precious few people actually bought the Essential PH-1, and no other Android phone makers of note even batted an eye at the design.
A month later in September, Apple unveiled the iPhone X with a different type of notch cut out of the top of the phone’s screen. Then this happened.
From little Chinese phone makers you’ve never even heard of to industry leaders like Huawei and LG, Android vendors can’t steal the iPhone X’s design quickly enough. But as we’ve discussed in several recent articles like this one titled “Good lord, Android phone makers, please just stop,” none of the Android phones that steal Apple’s iPhone X design have done it properly.
For one thing, the point of Apple’s notch is to keep the bezel surrounding the phone’s display the exact same size all the way around the screen, aside from the notch. But most Android copycats still have a big “chin” bezel under the screen because they don’t have the engineering prowess or budget to pull off Apple’s brilliant display design on the iPhone X.
The second purpose served by the notch is to house Apple’s advanced TrueDepth camera and sensor cluster, which enables Apple’s new Face ID technology on the iPhone X. No other smartphone on the planet has face scanning tech that’s anywhere near as advanced and secure as Apple’s, and a new report from Reuters suggest that will continue to be the case until at least next year.
It’s not that Android vendors don’t want to copy Apple’s new Face ID tech. They always want to copy Apple’s hot new tech, obviously. It’s that they can’t.
“Most Android phones will have to wait until 2019 to duplicate the 3D sensing feature behind Apple’s Face ID security, three major parts producers have told Reuters, handicapping Samsung and others on a technology that is set to be worth billions in revenue over the next few years,” Reuters reported on Tuesday morning.
The report continued, “According to parts manufacturers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, bottlenecks on key parts will mean mass adoption of 3D sensing will not happen until next year, disappointing earlier expectations. That means that China’s Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of almost two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September. In particular, Android producers are struggling to source vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, a core part of Apple’s Face ID hardware.”
Apple’s supply chain mastery isn’t what it used to be. AirPods were released 15 months ago and Apple still isn’t shipping new online orders until more than a week after they’re placed. Several other products have been delayed, like the HomePod speaker that was finally released last month. But in the case of Face ID, Apple managed to lock down key component supply for more than a year, and it’s giving the company a big lead over Android vendors in an important new area that will play a huge role moving forward — not just in the smartphone market, but eventually across several different areas of the electronics industry.
Yes, these are all reports from different analysts, so let’s start with the worst.
Seen by Business Insider, Longbow Research’s latest report paints a dire picture for Apple’s current state of iPhone affairs.
According to analysts Shawn Harrison and Gausia Chowdhury, iPhone X sales have not been that great during Christmas, and improvements aren’t expected for the first half of the year.
“The iPhone X didn’t sell well during the holiday season,” a supply chain source told Longbow. “We didn’t get as many 1Q orders as previously anticipated.”
“The cut for 1Q is worse than usual and worse than what has happened in prior years,” a person said. “The March quarter has been low and we’re expecting flat production year over year,” a different source added.
Even the ASP — or average selling price — of the iPhone is going to drop, as a result. “”The ASPs [average selling prices] were high during 4Q because of the X, but ASPs will decrease during the March quarter, since the share of the X has gone down.”
Analysts at Nomura, meanwhile, seem to corroborate this take iPhone X production for the first quarter. Nomura lowered iPhone X sales to between 8 million and 12 million, down from the previous 13 million estimate. “Many component suppliers for iPhone X have seen very low shipments since Feb, which could cause very low utilisation rate and poor mix for 1H18F,” analyst Anne Lee told customers in a research note.
The price is apparently to blame. “One factor that is likely suppressing the smartphone market is price,” Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal said. “We see several indications the market elasticity is falling. Obviously, Apple’s iPhone ASPs have climbed from $ 645 in FY16; we model $ 742 in FY18. We do not believe it is coincidence that the highest end of the product portfolio, the X, is the model that is flagging.”
This brings us to Digitimes’ overly enthusiastic iPhone prediction, which says that Apple is getting ready to order 250-270 million smartphone panels for 2018. That’s crazy because it exceeds Apple’s best years by tens of millions of units — that’s assuming Apple would sell 270 million iPhones this year. Apple’s record is at 231 million iPhones (2015), but Apple only sold 216 million units last year.
Digitimes says Apple would buy 110-130 million OLED panels, including 70-80 million 5.9-inch units and 40-50 million 6.5-inch units. It’ll also purchase 6.1-million LTPS panels for a third iPhone to be released this fall, as well as 60-70 million panels for all the LCD iPhones it currently stocks, including the the iPhone 8, 7, SE, and older models.
Since Apple has taken to reusing the same iPhone designs multiple times, the company has begun to use colors as yet another way to help distinguish new iPhone generations from their predecessors. For example, Apple added a new Rose Gold color to the iPhone lineup when it reused the iPhone 6 design on 2015’s iPhone 6s. Then it added new Black and Jet Black colors when it reused the iPhone 6 design again on the iPhone 7 in 2016. Then it ditched all three of those colors and added a new Space Gray hue when it reused the iPhone 6 design yet again on 2017’s iPhone 8. You get the idea.
In 2018, Apple will reportedly reveal three new iPhone models when it announces it new lineup this coming September. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the world’s top Apple insider, we can expect an iPhone X sequel as well as a larger iPhone X Plus — though that won’t be the phone’s name when it debuts — and Apple will also release a lower-cost iPhone model with an LCD screen instead of an OLED panel. All three of these new 2018 iPhones are expected to feature a design just like the current iPhone X, so Apple is reportedly readying a new color to spice things up. Now, a new leak might have given us our first ever look at Apple’s new color for its iPhone X successors.
Amateur graphic design Benjamin Geskin tried his hand at iPhone leaks last year, and he didn’t have a very good go of it. Geskin chose a “spaghetti on the wall” approach where he constantly shared information that contradicted his own prior leaks. He was wrong about much of what he predicted as a result, but his tune would often change as other people leaked information, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly how good or bad his track record is.
One thing Geskin said numerous times ahead of its unveiling was that Apple’s 2017 iPhone X would be made available in a new gold color that had never been seen before in Apple’s iPhone lineup. It was a gold hue that he took to calling “Blush Gold,” and it was somewhere between the Gold and Rose Gold colors Apple had used before on its iPhone models. Of course when Apple unveiled the iPhone X last September, the new Blush Gold color was nowhere to be found. Instead, Apple released the iPhone X in just two colors: Silver and Space Gray.
With about six months to go until Apple debuts its 2018 iPhone lineup, Geskin is back with the same prediction once again.
In a post on Twitter on Monday morning, he said that Apple’s next-generation iPhone X model is “in production” in the new Blush Gold color. Now, Apple’s 2018 iPhone models are obviously not currently “in production,” and mass production won’t begin anytime soon. He likely meant to suggest that certain components had entered test production in the new Blush Gold color, and he offered an image of a Blush Gold SIM card tray to support his claim.
D21A – “Blush Gold” iPhone in production. pic.twitter.com/l2xGYIYsCh
— Ben Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) March 19, 2018
He also posted a render of the iPhone X successor in the rumored Blush Gold color:
It’s difficult to trust Geskin’s rumors at this point. In fact, he already hedged this new prediction by replying with “stuff can be cancelled I guess” when someone on Twitter suggested that Apple likely wouldn’t release iPhones in the new Blush Gold color this year. That said, several more reliable sources have already reported that Apple’s new 2018 iPhone X successors will indeed launch in a new gold color, though the exact hue of Apple’s new color has not previously been specified.
Taking a quick trip down memory lane, Apple back in 2006 paid out $ 100 million to settle a lawsuit with Creative Labs over allegations that the iPod’s hierarchical menu structure infringed upon one of Creative’s patents. As a direct result of that settlement, Steve Jobs — who was reportedly furious with the suit — became convinced of two things: One, Apple would have to start patenting everything under the sun. And two, it was imperative for Apple to control as many of the underlying technologies in its products as possible.
That said, an intriguing new report from Bloomberg relays that Apple has been operating a secret manufacturing facility in California where a team of approximately 300 engineers have been busy developing and producing MicroLED displays that may one day end up shipping on future iPhone models. Hardly a surprise, Apple for a few years now has been interested in developing superior display technologies. To this point, MicroLED displays certainly fit the bill as the technology is reportedly superior to OLED and promises to “make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.”
Of course, Apple’s research in the area has had its fair share of challenges, with the report noting that the project was almost cancelled about a year ago.
The screens are far more difficult to produce than OLED displays, and the company almost killed the project a year or so ago, the people say. Engineers have since been making progress and the technology is now at an advanced stage, they say, though consumers will probably have to wait a few years before seeing the results.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a report regarding Apple’s interest in MicroLED displays. This past May, a report surfaced indicating that Apple in 2017 placed an order for a batch of MicroLED screens for testing in future products. What’s more, you might recall that Apple in 2014 acquired LuxVue Technology, a company with expertise in MicroLED display technology. Further, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr a few years ago said that LuxVue’s technology could result in a “technical breakthrough in displays.”
Should Apple come up with a MicroLED breakthrough, said displays will be incorporated on the Apple Watch well before the iPhone. Indeed, Bloomberg notes that Apple only recently managed to successfully incorporate a MicroLED display on the Apple Watch.
In late 2017, for the first time, engineers managed to manufacture fully functional MicroLED screens for future Apple Watches; the company aims to make the new technology available first in its wearable computers.
In a best case scenario, the report adds that we’re likely still 3-5 years away from MicroLED displays being included on a new iPhone model. Apple is already rumored to be seeking OLED supply from LG Display in an effort to reduce its dependence on Samsung, which is the company’s sole OLED display provider for iPhone X screens. As was the case with A series chipsets, however, Apple appears to be interested in developing its own display technology to cut costs, increase profit margins, and add another element of control over its product lines.
A video leaked on Thursday that allegedly showed Apple’s upcoming iPhone SE 2 for the first time ever. The handset pictured in the video bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s iPhone X, but it appear to be smaller. In place of the rounded stainless steel that wraps around the perimeter of the iPhone X, this phone has flattened aluminum just like the current iPhone SE. On the front is what appears to be an “all-screen” design with a notch that is definitely in line with the iPhone X. A vertically oriented dual-lens camera that’s also similar to the iPhone X’s design can be found on the back.
The phone is powered on and operational in the video, and it certainly appears to be running iOS. But alas, this design flies in the face of everything we’ve heard so far about the iPhone SE 2 in leaks and rumors, so the phone pictured in this leak is definitely fake. Probably. Maybe.
First off, let’s have a look at the video to refresh our memories.
Now, there are a ton of reasons to believe the phone featured in this video is just some weird Chinese handset that runs an iOS themed version of Android.
As I mentioned above, rumors up to this point have suggested that the iPhone SE 2 Apple may or may not be planning to release this year looks far more like the current model from 2016 than it does the iPhone X. While Apple may ultimate look to unify its iPhone design across all price points, it seems unlikely that it would take steps to do that so soon. For one thing, Apple’s “notched” display design is reportedly only a stopgap solution that could go away as soon as next year. For another thing, this design doesn’t make sense at all on a low-cost phone — and that brings us to the next reason the phone in this video could be a fake.
The iPhone SE is a low-cost phone, but Apple’s TrueDepth camera and sensor solution is very expensive. Apple’s iPhone X starts at $ 1,000 for a few different reasons, such as the pricey flexible OLED display panel and the expensive stainless steel Apple used in place of aluminum. But the components that make up the TrueDepth camera are believed to be quite pricey as well. Apple can’t make a phone that supports Face ID without those components, and someday Face ID may indeed wind up on low-cost iPhones. But the tech seemingly is still far too new and expensive for today to be that day.
Speaking of expensive components, there is a dual camera on the back of this supposed iPhone SE 2. First, the dual camera from the iPhone X or even the iPhone 8 Plus is very expensive. Second, it requires 3GB of RAM. And third, is Apple really going to release an entry-level iPhone with a dual camera when the iPhone 8 doesn’t even have one? No way.
But here’s where things get confusing.
About a week ago, I was sent iPhone SE 2 sketches by a source that has provided me with reliable information many times in the past. I immediately began searching for additional sources to confirm the design pictured in those sketches, but then this leaked video popped up — and the phone pictured in the video looks almost exactly like the sketches I received last week.
Here are the sketches, which show the current iPhone SE on the left and the alleged iPhone SE 2 on the right:
Does that mean the phone in the leaked video is really Apple’s upcoming iPhone SE 2? Definitely not. It could still be a fake and this could be a coincidence. Or perhaps this is the new mid-range iPhone Apple plans to release alongside its iPhone X sequel and “iPhone X Plus” later this year.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the world’s top Apple insider, has reported at least a half-dozen times that Apple plans to launch three new iPhone models this coming September. One will supposedly be an iPhone X successor with a 5.8-inch OLED display, one will be a larger Plus model with a 6.5-inch OLED display, and the third will be a lower-cost version with a 6.2-inch LCD screen.
That third handset was thought to feature a design that was far more similar to the iPhone X than the phone pictured in the leaked video and in my exclusive sketches, but it’s possible that Apple could tie in some of the iPhone SE’s design identity to link the new lower-cost model to Apple’s other low-cost phone. It would be quite strange to blend the two designs like that, but Apple has made plenty of strange decisions over the past couple of years. The other problem with this theory is that my source’s sketches suggest this phone is the same overall size as the current iPhone SE. At that size, the handset would not feature a display that measures 6.2 inches diagonally.
Whatever the case, we should get answers soon enough. If Apple is planning to release a new iPhone SE 2 model in 2017, it would likely happen in the first half of the year, which means leaks will start flooding the web in the coming weeks.