iPhone 6 Release Date Looms as Major Apple Supply Chain Shifts Suggest Start of Mass Production

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By Erik Pineda | August 12, 2014 1:13 PM EST

Apple is likely to start real soon its volume production of the iPhone 6 that paves the way for a nearing release date, which according to analysts will likely be on the last few days of September 2014.

REUTERS / Robert Galbraith
The Apple logo is pictured at a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014.

That the large-scale assembly of the next iPhone will commence soon (if not already underway) was suggested by fresh supply chain developments coming off Asia that points to milestones involving Apple's key manufacturing partners.

The first indicator came from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) that according to DigiTimes earned a whopping $2.16 billion by the end of July. The result was revealed shortly after the company was reported to have delivered the initial bulk shipments of A8 processing chips that likely will power up the iPhone 6.

Citing its unnamed sources, the Taiwanese publication reported that TSMC will continue on its growth path in the remaining months of 2014 and well into 2015. TSMC is apparently propelled by "the kickoff of volume production of 20nm products," earlier this year, the report said.

It is assumed that the 20nm products referred to is the 64-bit A8 CPU.

TSMC is also forecasted to experience 20 per cent revenue growth in the second half of the year as Apple further ramps up its production of the 2014 iPhones. Morgan Stanley has projected that up to 80 million freshly-minted iPhone 6 units will ship out by the end of December 2014 - all of them drawing life from TSMC's A8 application processor.

Chatters are rampant as well that Apple will continue to source its A9 chips requirements, which will end up on the 2015 iPhones and iPads, from TSMC though it likely will be an honour shared with Samsung.

And as the iPhone 6 chief inside component starts reaching Apple's assembly plants in China as early as July this year, significant changes are happening over at Foxconn, which is reported as the lead manufacturer of the device with up to 80 per cent grip of the total iPhone 6 orders through the end of 2014.

In a separate report by DigiTimes, Foxconn has implemented adjustments on "its production lines and production capacities in order to increase yield rates and efficiency of equipment utilization." This happened in July, the report said, which aligns with earlier rumours that Apple has commenced its preparation for the mass production of the iPhone 6.

The report also noted that the modifications will take some time to reach the optimal point, which suggests that actual assembly of the next iPhone can only begin anytime in August.

As proof of Foxconn's transition to the wholesale manufacture of the iPhone 6, DigiTimes highlighted the fact that the device maker suffered a steep drop on revenues, reflected by its July results, as its shipments of other consumer electronic products dipped dramatically.

The retreat, however, is likely to be offset by the end of 2014 as Foxconn will reportedly build more than 100 million new iPhones that also include the iPhone 5S and 5C, which Apple will repackage as its budget phones.

As for the iPhone 6 release date, late September is seen as the earliest estimated arrival of the handset (specifically the 4.7-inch make) or a few weeks after the Sept 9 reveal though the availability will greatly depend on whether Foxconn has really commenced putting the device together this August.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Robert Galbraith / )
The Apple logo is pictured at a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014.
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