[THE INVESTOR] Apple is scheduled to unveil its new iPhone lineup on Sept. 12 (local time) at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. Just like last year, the tech giant is said to have three variants of the new iPhone up its sleeves. The most eye-catching will probably be the biggest-ever model, named iPhone XS MAX, which will come with a 6.5 inch OLED display.
The screen, if the rumors turn out to be true, will be 0.1 inch larger than that of Samsung Electronic’ latest flagship phablet Galaxy Note 9, launched in August. The XS MAX will be the largest flagship smartphone available in the market for a while until Chinese smartphone makers, including Huawei, roll out their own large-screen smartphones later this year.
The two other new models, reportedly named iPhone XS and iPhone XC, will feature a 5.8 inch OLED display and a 6.1 inch LCD display, respectively. The iPhone XS is an upgraded version of last year’s 5.8-inch iPhone X, while the LCD-fitted phone is a lower-end model and rumored to have a limited production volume.
By adopting the whopping 6.5 inch screen for its high-end model, Apple appears to be trying to appeal to consumers who increasingly want a bigger screen to watch videos and take photos with a mobile device. Probably in line with its efforts, the Cupertino-based tech giant, originally a hardware-oriented company, has been pouring resources into developing mobile services and content businesses in recent years, including one that makes original TV content like Netflix and Amazon.
The larger screen can lead to higher profits for both Apple and its suppliers.
The iPhone X, whose base price was US$999 when it was released, helped boost the profit margins of Apple although the sales figures fell short of meeting expectations.
Some forecast that the new XS MAX will start between US$900 and US$1,000, but it seems natural to think the new model will be more expensive than its predecessors. The XS is expected to be priced between US$800 and US$900 while the entry-level XC will likely cost around US$600 to US$700.
Local investment firms forecast Samsung Display, which currently has an exclusive supply contract with Apple for the OLED panels, will be able to see a profit jump in the third quarter thanks to the release of the OLED-equipped iPhones.
“Samsung Display will be able to remain as the sole OLED supplier for Apple this year,” said Roh Keun-chang, an analyst from HMC Investment Securities, predicting the production volume of the 6.5-inch panel will be 10-percentage points larger than the 5.8-inch model.
KB Securities projected that operating profit of the display maker will reach 800 billion won (US$709.22 million) in the third quarter this year, up from 140 billion won in the previous quarter.
LG Display also aims to wedge itself into Apple’s supply chain for OLEDs. It is rumored to supply OLED panels for the new iPhones from the fourth quarter this year, but the volume is said to be a mere 4 million units.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)