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Apple Supply Chain Shifting iPhone 8 Production

While the handsets are still on track to launch September, Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup, led by an anticipated high-end OLED model, is rumored to go into production earlier than the usual timeframe, in a move that could allow the company more time to iron out kinks associated with new technology. By 24/7 Staff

A new supply chain report from Digitimes claims Apple is shifting iPhone 8 production up earlier than usual for the company.

The report also continues to push the rumor that Apple is planning iris scanning technology in the next flagship iPhone.

Apple has requested its chip and component suppliers start trial production, inspection and prepare inventories for the new iPhone series earlier than usual, said the sources.

Deliveries of chips and parts for the new models are expected to kick off in the second half of first-quarter 2017, the sources indicated.

While earlier than usual production was separately reported earlier this week, a Fast Company piece two days ago cited an anonymous source in saying that the iPhone 8 will likely still launch around the usual September timeframe.

It’s possible Apple is ramping up production earlier to meet what is expected to be greater than usual demand without sacrificing quality.

Digitimes also cites industry sources in claiming Apple plans to introduce iris scanning and wireless charging in the new iPhone.

Fast Company specifically named Lumentum earlier this week as one firm supplying a new laser sensor for the upcoming iPhone which could be used for depth perception with Apple’s new biometric security technology.

While at least one model of the new iPhone is expected to retail for over $1000, KGI yesterday released an investor report pointing to a change in 3D Touch display technology that will be partly to blame for higher production costs.

In that report, KGI predicts all three new iPhone models will include wireless charging technology, too, which has not yet been done on any iPhone.

Apple is also expected to introduce a new design later this year after the iPhone 7 largely iterated on the iPhone 6 look. An all-glass design with stainless steel borders could be the first to introduce an OLED display and stronger water resistance.

It should be noted that DigiTimes has an unreliable track record in predicting Apple's future product plans.

Though the publication does occasionally provide accurate information from Apple's supply chain, it frequently gets both timing and features wrong on upcoming products.

Still, details from the report - including the continued expectations that new iPhones will stick to a September launch - align with current expectations.

Apple is heavily rumored to debut three new iPhones later this year in September, headlined by a premium "iPhone X" that could cost more than $1,000.

It's expected to boast a glass back and curved edge-to-edge 5.2-inch OLED display that will conceal components like the earpiece speaker, Touch ID and FaceTime camera beneath the screen.

In addition, Apple is also expected to launch successors to the iPhone 7 series in similar designs, sized with the same 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens.

It is rumored that those handsets will stick with LCD technology for their displays, while the OLED iPhone will have a "considerably better" panel, helping to justify its jumbo-sized price tag.

According to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, all three 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging technology, though the OLED model will need a new thin graphite sheet component to prevent overheating.

Related: Is Apple Working on a Trump Contingency Plan?

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