Apple to offset ‘iPhone 12’ 5G costs with less expensive batteries

According to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, in an effort to keep costs in line on next-generation hardware, Apple will adopt less expensive, less complex batteries for next- and future-gen “iPhone 12,” “iPhone 12S,” and “AirPods 3” products.

iPhone 12 design
Apple’s rumored iPhone 12 design

Mikey Campbell for AppleInsider:

Starting with this year’s expected “iPhone 12” family, Kuo in a note to investors on Friday said he believes Apple will reduce the number of rigid-flex battery board layers and squeeze active cell components into a smaller area to achieve an average unit price 40% to 50% lower than iPhone 11. Looking ahead of 2021, Apple’s “iPhone 12S” will ditch rigid-flex boards for a flexible architecture that should shave 30% to 40% off “iPhone 12” battery unit costs.

Apple is looking for ways to offset a costly upgrade to 5G, Kuo says. The analyst pegs the cost of upgrading to sub-6Ghz and millimeter wave technologies at $75 to $85 and $125 to $135, respectively. The strategy should keep consumer pricing steady during the transition to 5G.

Kuo adds that Apple will make similar moves with its AirPods lineup. The company is predicted to abandon existing second-generation AirPods battery PCB tech for a system-in-package design that will debut with a third-generation model in the first half of 2021. The new unit’s battery cells will further drive down average unit cost, which is on track to sink 25% to 35% in the second half of 2020, Kuo says.

MacDailyNews Take: Currently, the rumor mill expects the following nex-gen iPhone models:

iPhone 12
• 5.4-inch BOE OLED Super Retina display
• 5G cellular connectivity
• A14 SoC
• 4GB memory
• 128GB, 256GB storage
• Aluminum casing
• Dual rear camera system
• $649, $749

iPhone 12 Max
• 6.1-inch BOE OLED Super Retina
• 5G cellular connectivity
• A14 SoC
• 4GB memory
• 128GB, 256GB storage
• Aluminum casing
• Dual rear camera system
• $749, $849

iPhone 12 Pro
• 6.1-inch Samsung OLED Super Retina XDR with ProMotion and 10-bit Color Depth display
• 5G cellular connectivity
• A14 SoC
• 6GB memory
• 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
• Stainless steel casing
• Triple camera system
• LiDAR
• $999, $1099, $1299

iPhone 12 Pro Max
• 6.7-inch Samsung OLED Super Retina XDR with ProMotion and 10-bit Color Depth display
• 5G cellular connectivity
• A14 SoC
• 6GB memory
• 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
• Stainless steel casing
• Triple camera system
• LiDAR
• $1099, $1199, $1399

14 Comments

  1. I predict liquidmetal midframes in the 12 Pro and new Apple watches! The LQMT stock is suddenly soaring based on insider buying. Someone knows something and word is starting to leak out. Liquidmetal’s stock was 8 cents three weeks ago. Yesterday it hit 17 cents. This metal could be awesome for Apple! Lighter than aluminum, stronger than steel, elastic, 5G transparent, injection-moldable. The rocket ship appears to be taking off!

  2. I’m so over phones. There’s nothing I can get excited about. 5G? Nah. Wake me when it’s built into iPad and MacBook Pros. I’m still highly satisfied with my 10X Max. Best phone I’ve ever had. iPhone or otherwise.

  3. Have long been expecting an improvement in battery life and performance, not a degradation to keep costs low.
    Since when has Apple been about trading quality for low cost, eh?

    1. I don’t believe for one second that Apple’s going to sacrifice quality, they’ve made software and hardware improvements to offset any reduction in battery size.

    1. Apple has said in the past they don’t have different features for the different price points. They don’t want the lesser models to be missing out. They only differentiate by size and storage amounts by choice.

  4. I’m not sure I like to hear that Apple is cutting costs on batteries. That’s a dangerous component for Apple to mess around with. If even one iPhone catches fire, that will turn into hell for Apple. Firegate Supreme.

    I might be taking this wrong when they say less expensive batteries, as I’m hoping they’re not less safe. I’ll have to trust Apple knows what it’s doing.

    1. Less expensive batteries don’t have to be more dangerous. Until we learn more, one shouldn’t assume that less expensive is somehow worse.

      For example, Battery Day is coming up for Tesla, and it’s expected that they’ll intro LFP, Lithium-Ferrous-Phospate batteries. They’re 20 to 30% cheaper than their current battery, but the chemistry is also more stable, so safer. You can charge it faster, and many more times than the current chemistry.

      The downside is that it takes more physical space, so the idea is that Tesla would use LFP on the smaller capacity models. Now, LFP has been used in the past, but because of the size, only in buses, etc. Recent improvements, by simplifying the cooling mechanism, has reduced what used to be a 40% bigger battery to a 20% bigger one, by kWh. That made it viable for car use, where size matters.

      Perhaps, Apple is doing something similar. Using a less expensive, more stable chemistry, that takes up a little more space. We’ll find out soon enough.

  5. Why is Apple’s stuff referred to as “expensive?” More expensive; Less expensive. Why the drama? One could also make the case that “expensive” is also a lie used by lazy thinkers.
    Just say “costs less,” or “lower priced,” or “reduced prices.” These are neutral descriptions. Authors, critics, and commenters make this error in judgement nearly always, and it is indeed a judgement, an unfair one to Apple.

  6. Why NOT decrease the effectiveness of an essential part rather than lessen in any way the incredible profit it already makes with each iphone sale? God forbid not maximizing profit at
    the expense of the consumer.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.