iPhone production to rise 12.3% YoY in 2021, 'iPhone 12s' removes focus from mini

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Apple will enjoy a bumper year of iPhone sales with the easing of the pandemic, according to TrendForce, with the fall "iPhone 13" launches said to benefit from ProMotion support in the Pro models as well as sensor-shift OIS, though with less attention paid to the "mini" model.

As the economy starts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple is expected to benefit from the recovery. In a note from TrendForce, Apple's performance for the entirety of 2021 is believed to be "positive," and will lead to higher smartphone production.

In what is considered a "cautiously optimistic view," the forecast from the firm is for Apple to grow iPhone production for 2021 to 223 million units, a 12.3% year-on-year increase. TrendForce says there's still additional room for a "slight growth going forward," though the ongoing global chip shortage may have a "constraining effect" in Apple's attempts to ramp up production.

Apple is also anticipated to benefit from Huawei's decision to pull away slightly from the high-end smartphone market. This will in theory provide more demand for Apple's products.

"iPhone 12s"

On the next generation of models, which TrendForce refers to as the "iPhone 12s" rather than the "iPhone 13," the firm believes the market is focusing more on the physical appearances and pricing of smartphones. In the case of Apple, "the degree of innovation is not particularly significant in terms of appearance," the research outfit believes, with the chief change being the rumored shrinking notch on the display.

It is thought the four models can be an "extension" to the iPhone 12 range, complete with a "proactive pricing strategy" similar to the current generation. Despite price rises of key components due to tight supplies, Apple is thought to take into account the growth of "peripheral services in relation to the growth of iPhone sales," such as Apple Music subscriptions, and will keep the prices roughly the same as they are now.

However, Apple is anticipated to drive sales for three of the four models, due to disappointing sales of the iPhone 12 mini. TrendForce believes the "end of life" of the device was reached "ahead of time in 2Q21," which may be interpreted as production on the model has halted.

In terms of upgrades, the analysis firm recaps the use of the A15 processor using TSMC's 5nm+ mode, AMOLED panels with ProMotion 120Hz capabilities for the Pro models, and LiDAR on the upper-tier versions. All models will apparently benefit from sensor-shift optical image stabilization, a feature currently limited to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and previously rumored to be expanded in March.

The use of a 6P lens on the ultra-wide cameras for the Pro models is tipped, which will also apparently be capable of autofocus. Memory capacities are expected to be the same as for the iPhone 12 range.

TrendForce believes the new models will account for roughly 39% of Apple's total annual production in 2021. With the continued inclusion of 5G in the fall launches, the share of 5G models in overall iPhone production will grow from 39% in 2020 to 75% in 2021.

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