Kuo believes the popularity of the glossy Jet Black iPhone 7 will encourage Apple to return to glass as it has a higher gloss finish than metal.
While a glossy finish is possible for metal casing, we identify two prerequisites for the 2017 new iPhone to be competitive in terms of casing design, considering competitors will definitely launch smartphone models with glossy metal or glass casing prior to Apple’s launch: (1) adoption of a glossy finish design; (2) enhanced productivity and higher yield will prevent a supply shortage, as has happened with jet black casing, which is manufactured at an unsatisfactory yield rate of 60-70% due to the metal material; and (3) better scratch resistance will improve user satisfaction. All things considered, we see glass casing as the only option.
Kuo says Apple will likely stick to a slightly curved 2.5D cover glass to maintain high production yields and better drop test performance. The glass casing will be reinforced by an aluminum metal frame and a new stainless steel frame will reportedly be used for high end models.
Metal frame can be stainless steel or aluminum, with former more likely for high-end models. As all-glass casing is not possible at present given technological bottlenecks, a metal frame surrounding the edge is necessary for reinforced structure design. As stainless steel has a better look than aluminum and costs more, we expect only high-end new iPhone models to come with a stainless steel frame next year.
Foxconn is said to be the sole supplier of the high-end iPhone models next year as it will be the exclusive manufacturer of the new stainless steel frame. Glass supplier Corning and glass casing maker Lens Technology and Biel Crystal are also said to benefit from the new design.
Previously Kuo predicted that Apple would introduce a new 5.8-inch model of the 2017 iPhone. Although the display will be larger, the form factor of the device is said to be smaller than the current 5.5-inch iPhone. If the supply level of the AMOLED displays is sufficient, Apple may replace the 5.5-inch model.
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