The iPhone 15 Pro Max could be hit by major delays thanks to one of its major selling points: the shiny new tetraprism camera lens.
There have been rumblings since long before the iPhone 15 family was announced that Apple was beset by production problems, with plenty of chatter that the limited rollout of the new camera (only on the Pro Max, rather than both Pro models) was the result.
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Those earlier rumors seem to have been confirmed by a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
"The most significant supply bottleneck for the iPhone 15 Pro Max is currently the tetraprism compact camera module (CCM), which is exclusively supplied by LGIT," he wrote, referring to LG Innotek (part of the LG electronics group).
"To improve the CCM production yield, Apple has urgently increased the specifications of the tetraprism lens exclusively supplied by Largan, to address the CCM yield issues caused by assembly tolerances."
Largan is the world’s largest supplier of smartphone camera lenses, and is notorious for being so good at what it does that it's the one supplier that Apple can't bully. Indeed, a knock-on effect of this latest development plays into Largan's hands; since it has Apple over a barrel, it has increased the price of the lens by 20%.
Further, because Apple has raised lens tolerances to increase production yield, this further cements Largan's position as the primary supplier. As Ming-Chu notes, "If Apple maintains the higher specification for the lens, it will raise the entry barrier for Genius, Apple’s second-largest lens supplier, next year."
Next year, of course, it is expected that both the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max will feature tetraprism cameras (as was almost certainly the plan this year, before production issues derailed plans).
The extent to which the supply problems might delay shipping of the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year isn't clear, but make no mistake; if Apple is willing to pay 20% more for every camera lens produced, this is a very significant problem indeed.
大立光是iPhone 15 Pro Max出貨的救世主；四重反射稜鏡鏡頭單價顯著提升20%以上 / Largan is the savior of iPhone 15 Pro Max shipments; the unit price of tetraprism lens increases significantly by more than 20%https://t.co/reNodV4M4ASeptember 18, 2023
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