RAM? Check. Antenna switch? Check. Screen? Oops. Parts suppliers for Apple have found themselves facing a shortage of screens for the new iPhone 6 as next month's release date for the new smartphone looms.
The shortage was triggered by the need to redesign a component in the phone, interrupting the production of phone panels. There was no word Friday about whether the obstacle would delay the phone's release or limit initial availability.
Sources told media outlets that production of the display panels was delayed after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be changed. That stopped the screen assembly process for parts of June and July. Apple had previously encountered (and solved) problems with the manufacture of the thinner screens on the iPhone 6.
The new phone is said to come with either 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screens, as compared with the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c.
Let There Be More Light
Reuters reported that Apple was trying for the thinnest phone possible and had planned to use just one layer of backlight film instead of the standard two for the 4.7-inch screen. Unfortunately the new configuration didn't emit enough light, and the backlight was sent back to technicians to figure out how to fit in the extra layer, leading to the assembly delay.
The iPhone 6 screens are being manufactured by Japan Display Inc., Sharp Corp. and South Korea's LG Display Co Ltd., sources told Reuters. The assembly process is now back on track and suppliers are working extra hours to make up for lost time, the supply-chain sources added.
Earlier this month, Japan Display, said to be the lead supplier for the new iPhone panel, announced that orders for "a large customer" had arrived as expected, but that shipments may be delayed.
A spokesperson for Pegatron, the firm responsible for assembly of the iPhone, told Reuters, "currently, there's a small shortage in supply of a specialized component for our communication devices," but added that such problems are not uncommon and that it would have a negligible impact on production.
Apple was reported to have ordered more than 70 million iPhone 6 units in anticipation of the product's launch, a company record. Industry observers have speculated that the number is split fairly evenly between the 4.7-inch model and the 5.5-inch model. Apple ordered around 50 million units for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, again split between the two devices.
Apple sold 51 million iPhones during the company's first fiscal quarter of 2014, which reflected the three months from October through December of 2013.
Anticipation for the iPhone 6 is huge, as it is for most new Apple products. In addition to a bigger screen and new design, the iPhone 6 is expected to come with a new processor, probably Apple's A8. It's also expected to have more RAM, an upgraded camera, and an improved Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The Touch ID hardware is expected to be more durable than the first-generation Touch ID sensors.