5 Revelations About Apple This Week

Focus On Apple

While next week will be a major one for Apple news with the release of the company's latest quarterly results, this week still saw a generous helping of revelations about the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. Reports of a plan to switch to Intel modems for the iPhone and slowing demand for iPhone X led the way, along with news of OLED price negotiations with Samsung, a MacBook Pro recall and a possible virtual-reality headset in the works.

To boil it all down, in the following slides we've rounded up what you need to know about the five latest Apple revelations.

Apple May Rely On Intel Chips For iPhone

Apple reportedly is planning to use Intel cellular modems for 70 percent of its new iPhones coming out this fall and 100 percent of iPhones in 2019. Citing a source familiar with Apple's plans, a report from Fast Company said Intel potentially could supply more than 70 percent of iPhone modems this year if it can deliver under a certain timeline and budget. If Intel falls behind, Qualcomm may supply more than the 30 percent of modems it's currently slated to deliver this year, according to the report.

Apple is taking a wait-and-see approach because this is the first year Intel is handling the fabrication process for its modems after it had been previously handled by TSMC, Fast Company said. Intel has yet to reach a satisfactory yield rate for modem chips, but Intel engineers are confident they can sort out issues before production ramps up, according to the report.

More Signs Of Weak iPhone X Demand

Judging by troubling earnings reports from numerous suppliers of components for the iPhone X, Wall Street this week was in "full panic mode" about possible slowing demand for the iPhone X, according to analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights. One prominent example was Samsung, which supplies the OLED displays used in the iPhone X. For Samsung's display panel segment in the first quarter, "profits were affected by slow demand for flexible OLED panels," the company said in its news release.

And that is not expected to change for the second-quarter results, Samsung said, when "generating overall earnings growth across the company will be a challenge" due to factors including "weakness in the display panel segment."

OLED Price Negotiations With Samsung

A Digitimes report this week suggested that Apple is pushing Samsung to reduce the cost of OLED displays. Specifically, Apple is negotiating to reduce the cost of an OLED panel to $100, from $110, according to the report. The move may be part of an attempt to help the upcoming iPhone releases, expected this fall, to grab more consumer appeal with a lower price than the $999 iPhone X. The Digitimes report estimates that the OLED panel represents roughly a third of the total cost of producing an iPhone X.

Separate reports suggest that Apple will abandon the traditional top-and-bottom display bezel design with this fall's iPhone launch, and fully embrace the nearly edge-to-edge design of the iPhone X. Two new iPhone models, in 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch sizes, will use OLED display technology, according to previous notes from well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.

MacBook Pro Recall

In Mac news, Apple said it's initiating a battery replacement program for certain 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops because the batteries are prone to expanding. The recall affects models of the MacBook Pro that stem from the 2016 redesign -- but only impacts entry-level models that don't feature the Touch Bar, a touch-sensitive strip that replaces the function row of keys. In a web page for the replacement program, Apple said that a "limited number" of non-Touch Bar units of the MacBook Pro are impacted by the battery issue.

Apple said that in the affected MacBook Pros, "a component may fail causing the built-in battery to expand." The company stated that "this is not a safety issue," but didn't offer further details on that point. The affected MacBook Pros were manufactured between October 2016 -- which is when the latest redesign of the MacBook Pro was unveiled -- and October 2017.

The company said it will replace affected batteries for free, and users can determine if their MacBook Pro is eligible by entering the serial number into Apple's page for the replacement program.

Apple VR Headset In The Works?

Though Apple's focus on reality-altering technologies has been focused on augmented reality thus far, a CNET report suggests that Apple is working to develop a headset that will be able to offer virtual reality as well as AR. The headset would potentially include an 8K display for each eye, and would not require a smartphone or computer to power it, according to the report. The headset could be released as soon as 2020, CNET reported. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, an Apple partner based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., called the possible VR plans a "great competitive idea" for Apple. "Samsung has their product integrated directly for Galaxy devices," Goldstein said, but there's "no Apple product available today." The move would create "an even playing field as the technology moves more mainstream," he said.