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Taiwanese firm Mirle Automation has developed forming machinery for curved glass chassis that should put it in the supply chain for Apple's 2017 iPhones, a report said on Wednesday.
The Mirle equipment should be shipped to Foxconn and Lens Technology starting in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the Chinese-language Commercial Times, quoted by DigiTimes. Foxconn is Apple's main manufacturing partner.
The Times added that Foxconn's glass chassis has already gone through Apple verification, and that Lens Technology and Bern Optics will allegedly join Foxconn as iPhone chassis suppliers.
Unlike the "iPhone 7", which is expected to be another interim update when it's announced on Sept. 7, next year's flagship iPhone should be a major redesign, featuring a glass back and an edge-to-edge OLED display, possibly integrating camera and Touch ID components. Recently Nikkei suggested that there will be three models, one of which will use a curved OLED screen similar to Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge.
Even if some components are already being approved, Apple is only likely to ship its 2017 iPhones in the fall. Beyond launch window considerations, the company often takes time to settle on a final design, and has to both order components and allow for two to three months of assembly so it has enough launch-day inventory.