The release date for Apple's upcoming smartphone, believed to be called the iPhone 5, could be delayed due to a supply shortage of chips used in the device, according to a report from China.
The chips used in the newest generation of the iPhone are manufactured using 28-nanometer fabrication, which is an advanced production technology that few companies are familiar with. Chinese news publication WantChinaTimes has learned this from Gu Wenjun, an analyst with the market research firm iSuppli.
However, rumors surrounding chip shortages have surfaced in the past, making it unclear how credible the current information is. Despite the indication that the next-generation iPhone may be delayed, Qualcomm executives have said that the 28nm manufacturing issue is being addressed. According to ZDNet, the company said on its most recent quarterly earnings conference call that it was getting a handle on the situation. Since Qualcomm is the only processor player with integrated 4G, application and modem technology, it is likely to play a significant role in the next iPhone's development.
According to HIS iSuppli, Apple is the largest semiconductor buyer. In 2012, the company will buy $28 billion worth of chips, an increase from the $24 billion bought in 2011.
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said that demand for these 28nm chipsets has been high, but the company plans to boost capacity still.
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"We are continuing to see strong demand for our new Snapdragon S4 and other 28 nanometer chipsets, and that demand continues to exceed our available supply," Jacobs said, according to ZDNet. "We will continue to ramp capacity in the upcoming quarters consistent with our prior expectations."
If there is credibility to this shortage, the supply issue could be crucial, as Apple has just missed Wall Street's financial third quarter earnings and revenues estimates. As ZDNet acknowledges, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company also has a slower product cycle than rival Samsung, who has just seen widespread success with its Galaxy S3 device.
The most recent chip from Apple, the A5X found in the new iPad, features a dual-core CPU and quad-core CPU. Apple is likely to release an A6 for its forthcoming iPhone, but some critics think that Qualcomm's Snapdragon would be better suited for the device.
"Beyond performance, there would be functionality gains," writes Evan Niu of Daily Finance. "One of the reasons Qualcomm is the mobile-chip king is that it has enormous advantages in integration, especially in areas like cellular connectivity."
But will this alleged chip shortage actually delay the iPhone 5 release? ZDNet speculates that the phone will launch in October, but supplies will be tight for the first few months. With the ever-churning rumor mill of alleged iPhone 5 news at an all-time high, there is no way to confirm anything until the tight-lipped Apple makes an announcement.
The most recent rumor has indicated that the phone will reportedly be released on September 21, while a previous unconfirmed bit of information said that it will be unveiled on August 7 through a keynote event. An e-commerce website in China has also recently begun to take pre-orders for the device that has not even been announced yet, and conflicting production rumors have only added to the confusion. Here's a roundup of features and specs that are predicted to come with the iPhone 5:
- Smaller Dock Connector
- Redesigned Speaker Grills
- Metal Back
- Migrated FaceTime Camera
- Migrated Earphone Jack
- New Camera Opening
- The iWallet
- iTunes Gifting
- OLED Display
- LTE Connectivity
- Crack-Proof Glass
- The Photographer's Timer
- Apple Avatars
- Advanced Haptics
- 3D Photography
- 3D Object Recognition
- Multi-Player Gaming
- Micro SIM Connector
You can read more about these features in detail here.