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Apple's second-half iPhone production to rise nearly 100% to 58 million units

Orders to Apple's manufacturing partners for the second half of the year indicate iPhone shipments will grow roughly two-fold through a combination of existing iPhone 4 models and next-generation iPhone 5s, setting the company up for what's likely to be two consecutive record-breaking quarters in a row.

iPhone 4 and iPhone 5

In an update on Apple's supply chain ongoings sent to clients on Tuesday, FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said Apple has revised upwards its current third quarter production to 27.9 million units from 23.6 million units, representing a sequential rise of 33%, mostly from GSM versions of the handset.

"[Third quarter] iPhone builds were revised higher due to an additional 3.1M iPhone 4 builds (to 15.2M units) and due to an additional 1.4M iPhone 5 builds (to 6.8M units)," he wrote. "We still see 3M builds planned on the legacy iPhone 3GS to satisfy demands from various US and European carriers calling for a low cost device to compete with Android handsets."

The remaining 3 million units Apple intends to produce during the third quarter will be of the CDMA flavor, which "were ratcheted up slightly," Berger added.

For the fourth quarter, the analyst said Apple's build plan remains at 30 million units, which is unchanged, though he's handicapping reasonably good odds that Apple could produce as many as 35 million iPhones during the three-month period ending December should upside demand materialize.

"We see most of the [fourth quarter] iPhone production on the iPhone 5 (23M units), as iPhone 4 production drops off dramatically," he wrote. "Apple's current build plan drives total production to 102M units in calendar 2011, and likely driving about 95M units of sales."

iPhone & iPad build plans

Given the new iPhone build estimates, Berger said he believes Apple will sell a theoretically possible maximum of 58.2 million units during the second half of 2011, which represents nearly a 100% increase from the 30.3 million iPhones it sold during the same period last year.

Should the analyst's build data prove accurate, iPhone shipments for both the third and fourth quarter will set new records for Apple, which only recently eclipsed the 20-million-unit iPhone milestone for a single quarter during its record-shattering second quarter of 2011.

iPhone & iPad build plans

iPad 2 and iPad 3

Meanwhile, Berger's Far Eastern contacts say third quarter production estimates for iPads were revised up from 13.8 million units last month to 17.5M units, representing a 62% sequential rise in shipments.

However, fourth quarter iPad production has reportedly been trimmed back from 17M units to 13.7M units given that Apple has pushed back the manufacturing ramp of the "iPad 2 Plus" (iPad 3) due to retina display manufacturing yield challenges.

"We understand this display is highly dependent on Sharp's TFT LCD yield rates, with Samsung and LG reportedly unable to produce the necessary display panel in sufficient yields too," he wrote. "Calendar 2011 iPad builds now total 47M units, putting Apple's prior production goal of 45M-50M iPads in 2011 within reach."

iPhone & iPad build plans
iPhone & iPad build plans

Given the new iPad build estimates, Berger now estimate Apple can sell a theoretically possible maximum of 17M units in the third quarter and 13.5M units in the fourth, while still building channel inventory slightly. However, he warned that actual sales to consumers could be somewhat less than the sum of those totals, as Apple builds internal and channel inventory ahead of the holidays.

Nevertheless, Apple is still estimated to sell between 28 and 30 million iPads in the second half of 2011, driving another small growth spurt for Broadcom and Qualcomm, which supply Apple with GPS chip components and baseband components, respectively.