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Apple's 'iPhone 8' orders, Samsung demands impacting Chinese component supply for other vendors

Supply chain reports suggest that Apple's and Samsung's rapacious demand for smartphone components will deeply impact parts available for other manufacturers, with industry-wide shortages expected in the second half of 2017.

According to a report from DigiTimes, Chinese component manufacturers have been building up component supplies, readying for the ramp-up in flagship smartphone production. Supplies are said to be at an all-time low, because inventory levels are unexpectedly low after adjustments from the previous two quarters.

Aggravating the situation, the new flagships have higher default capacities, more RAM, and multiple lenses and camera elements, putting a further pinch on component quantities needed, as compared to previous year's demands. According to the sources, orders for USB Type-C interfaces are notably more prevalent this year as well, as are 18:9 display panels.

Specific to the iPhone, volume production of the "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 8" families are expected to put strain on casing manufacturers, like what happened in the "ultrabook" days with aluminum fabrication, and high-end fingerprint sensor component vendors.

DigiTimes has an unreliable track record in predicting Apple's future product plans. Though the publication does generally provide accurate information from Apple's supply chain, it frequently gets both timing and features wrong on upcoming products.

Recently, reports have circulated that Apple has solved the problem of embedding a Touch ID sensor in the phone's edge-to-edge OLED display. A rear-mounted sensor has been suggested some other leaks, but those are believed at this point to be early engineering prototypes.

The "iPhone 8" should be announced at a September press event, though mass production might only begin in October or November. In the meantime the company should have two LCD-based phones — the "iPhone 7s" and "7s Plus" which retain the design and features of the iPhone 7 family.