Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a closer look at 2018’s new iPhone features and specifications, why the iPhone SE2 is cancelled, Apple squeezing the supply chain, iOS 11’s flawed security, rumored updates to the iPad Pro, actual updates to the MacBook Pro, Google updates Inbox, and how fast Apple’s fast charge actually is.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Useful New iPhone X Features Leak
New features that will offer this year’s iPhone X Plus parity with Android flagships have leaked this week. It’s taken a long time, but it looks like Apple is finally moving to a dual-SIM handset, as I reported earlier this week:
Dual-SIM technology has proven to be a competitive advantage in a number of territories around the world, most notably in the BRIC territories – an area where Apple is trying to build up sales. With dual-SIM, you can connect to two different networks on your phone increasing connectivity options, you can have the flexibility of multiple mobile numbers working together in a single handset (with the obvious set-up of a personal and a business SIM), or you may want to put in a local SIM card while travelling but still remain connected to your home network.
Not everyone needs dual-SIM, and it will increase the bill of materials for manufacturers, but for many around the world, it is key features that will help them make a purchasing decision.
More Specs And Prices For 2018’s iPhone X Family
Curiously, the biggest visible change to the new iPhones may well be the color. With the high-end iOS smartphones likely to be matching specifications with Android flagships, how will Tim Cook get the new handsets to stand apart so the geekerati buy in to another ‘X’… a new color:
Kuo states Apple will return to its iPhone 5C strategy this year by releasing a ‘budget iPhone X’ model in multiple colours. These include white, blue, red and orange alongside the usual (space) gray. And this is just the start.
….Kuo notes the more premium second generation iPhone X and massive new iPhone X Plus will come in just three colours: the standard white (aka silver) and black (aka space gray) as well as a new shade of gold, something Apple has experimented with before.
Of Ex-iPhone SE2s And iPhone 8Xs
Lots of questions this week about the iPhone SE and the iPhone SE2 following a report by Bluefin. An update to the entry-level iPhone handset – provisionally named the iPhone SE2 – has been cancelled, and while the SE remains in the portfolio for the moment, it is getting very behind the times in terms of hardware and capability. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly notes the confusion:
As confident as Apple may be, however, what the BlueFin report shows is the company effectively pulling out of the midrange smartphone market and that is going to upset some users.
Meanwhile the update to the iPhone 8, which is likely to be regarded as the new ‘budget’ iPhone of the family, is getting more attention. Apple will being the notch over, but other areas will face compromises to keep the price in the same range as last year’s iPhone 8.
As the render shows, for approximately the same cost as an iPhone 8, Apple fans on a budget will be soon able to get the same bezel-less design as the iPhone X – complete with Face ID facial recognition. That’s the good news.
The bad news is buyers won’t get the same dual camera as the iPhone X or even the slightly downgraded version in the iPhone 8 Plus. Instead, they will be restricted to a single rear camera.
Next: Apple and its supply chain, iOS 11.4 security update, iPad Pro updates leak…
Apple Increases Pressure On Suppliers
Apple is skilled in ensuring there is competition throughout the supply chain. The large volume of iPhone units sold is attractive to suppliers, even if they need to bid hard to gain the order book. The news that Wistron is being offered more assembly work should come as no surprise, as I noted earlier this week:
Alongside the final manufacturing being split between Wistron and Foxconn, Apple has also set up ‘internal competition’ between Samsung and LG over the OLED displays to be used in 2018’s iPhone X and iPhone X Plus, and between Intel and Qualcomm over the cellular modems used inside the handsets. These won’t be the only areas where Apple is squeezing suppliers to increase its own margins and average revenue per handset.
Given the static sales of the iPhone, Apple’s only choice to maintain growth is to have a more efficient and cheaper supply chain, so these moves make sense on a financial front.
This isn’t the only area where Apple is playing hardball with its suppliers. Ben Lovejoy reports on Intel’s potential lost sales of its Wi-fi and Bluetooth components, and the impact of the lost volume on the product’s future:
A new report claims Apple has notified Intel that it will not use the chipmaker’s radio chips in its 2020 iPhones. It goes on to say that as Apple was the primary customer for the combined 5G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip, Intel has now halted development of the product and disbanded the team working on it …
iOS 11.4.1’s Flawed Security Update
Apple’s recent update to iOS featured a number of headline changes, but one was left undocumented – although it has been the one that has been the most widely reported. Apple has implemented restrictions on USB connectivity in light of a number of attacks and exploits. Gordon Kelly reports:
It was omitted from the official release notes, but with iOS 11.4.1 Apple quietly introduced an enhanced version of its ‘USB Restricted Mode’. This was meant to counteract a Grayshift hack which automatically enters passcodes via the Lightning port until the correct code is found and a device is unlocked. But it turns out Apple’s enhancement was half-baked.
What Apple did in iOS 11.4.1 was decrease the time until an iPhone or iPad’s Lightning port is disabled from one week to one hour after the last successful unlock. But security specialist ElcomSoft discovered this time limit will not start if the Lightning port is used at any point within that hour, so all you have to do to stop the one-hour window closing indefinitely is connect any USB accessory.
Apple Prepares Update To iPad Pro Line-up
Following the update to the entry-level iPad earlier this year, Apple looks set to refresh the Pro models of the iOS tablet. Perhaps the traditional October event may return this year to give them their own time in the spotlight, rather than gatecrash the iPhone’s September launch? Zac Hall reports:
Kuo’s rumored 11-inch model sounds like a replacement for the current 10.5-inch iPad Pro. That would put the lineup at 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch. Kuo also specifically says 11-inch and 12.9-inch, not 13-inch, which suggests he’s being specific and not rounding 10.5-inch up to 11-inch. This suggests the 12.9-inch iPad will have a smaller overall body versus making the hefty body feature a larger screen.
Next: iPad vs Surface Go, Google finally updates Inbox, how fast is Apple’s fast charger…
Surface Go Is Not An iPad Killer
Meanwhile in Redmond, Microsoft’s release of the Surface Go – a $399 lightweight Windows tablet with lots of legacy app support – has drawn the inevitable comparisons to March’s update of the iPad. But Apple can rest easy, Microsoft may hint at education, but it’s really going after the enterprise market:
Apple’s Education event in March drew a lot of online attention, not least because of the update to the iPad range and a new entry-level iPad at $329. ow Microsoft comes along with a cloud focused tablet in a similar price range, arguably offering the same features.
But while Redmond will be happy for the Surface Go if it takes over the education market, the signs are there that this is not the real prize.
Looks like Apple has nothing to be immediately worried about from the Surface Go – if only it can get its education strategy to work. Read more here on Forbes.
Google Finally Updates Inbox For iPhone X
Although the flaw in the UI was noted months ago, and anyone strictly following the iOS developer guidelines would have fixed the issues with their app and the notched display on the iPhone X, it’s taken until July 2018 for Google to sort out the Inbox app on iOS. Nick Statt reports on the long-awaited update:
After roughly nine months since Apple’s full-screen iPhone X hit the market, Google has at last updated its Inbox email app to support the device. In a 144MB update pushed out on the App Store today, Google says Inbox now supports Apple’s pricier iPhone variant, with little else by way of changes in the update text.
Effectively, this update just removes the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen so it more naturally fits the iPhone X’s display, with its funky 19.5:9 aspect ratio. For months now, users have been complaining about the lack of support, and Google acknowledged it was working on it back in April following the Gmail redesign.
Although the new iPhones are expected to ship with Apple’s fast charger, Cupertino has a long way to go to catch up with the competition in the ‘fast charge’ feature on your smartphone, as Doug Lynch found out:
While there have been a lot of improvements to overall power consumption in the field, a lot of people constantly beg for bigger and bigger batteries in our mobile devices. To get around this pain point, companies have been working on their own version of fast charging technology. Each of them brings something unique to the table. A new infographic has been created to highlight the strengths and weaknesses that these fast charge technologies provide. The infographic uses data from our own testing as well as data from other publications.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.