(TechNews) Following Apple’s inclusion of the iPhone 6 Plus on its list of obsolete products in February this year, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 2 have also recently been added officially, making it difficult to obtain official repair services for these products in the future.
The iPad Air 2, launched in October 2014, was Apple’s first iPad Air with Touch ID recognition and utilized the A8X processor. As for the iPad mini 2, which was launched in November 2013, it utilized the same A7 processor as the iPhone 5s, along with the M7 motion-sensing co-processor.
Apple mostly considers products that are 5 to 7 years old as outdated. The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 2 have already exceeded this lifespan and it is quite reasonable to deem these products obsolete.
However, the inclusion of a product on the obsolete list does not mean that the device cannot be used. If consumers have maintenance requirements, it will depend on whether the company has replacement parts in stock. If there are missing parts, Apple will not repair this product for users.
On the eve of Apple’s upcoming new product launch conference, the global market research organization, TrendForce, provides the following reference data for your articles and reporting.
Reference data as follows:
Global smartphone production came to 356 million units for 2021, showing a QoQ increase of 9.5%, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The second half of last year saw demand injections related to the peak promotion season for e-commerce platforms and year-end holiday sales. These factors thus bolstered smartphone production and resulted in 4Q21 seeing the highest QoQ growth rate for the year. Apple’s new iPhones were the primary growth driver. On the other hand, the performances of a few smartphone brands were constrained by the shortage of some key components. Hence, the total smartphone production for 4Q21 was slightly lower compared with 4Q20 or even 4Q19.
Apple took production leadership in 4Q21 with record high of 85.5 million units
After unveiling the iPhone 13 series in September, Apple started aggressively ramping up the shipments of these new devices to meet market demand. Owing to its fast-paced sales and marketing rhythms, Apple has been able to take first place in the quarterly ranking of smartphone brands by production market hare for many fourth quarters, and 4Q21 was no exception. Besides maintaining its top position in the fourth-quarter brand ranking, Apple raised its quarterly iPhone production to a new record high of 85.5 million units, a 66.0% QoQ increase. In the aspect of pricing strategy, the prices of the new iPhone 13 models were reasonable for consumers, while the price reductions for the older iPhone models were noticeable as well. Moreover, the capturing of the market share left by Huawei can be considered as the main factor behind Apple’s stellar performance in 4Q21. Over time, the orders for Huawei’s flagship models (i.e., the P and Mate series) have been gradually replaced by iPhone orders. In terms of annual production, Apple reached 233 million units for 2021, up from almost 200 million units for 2020. The growth was mainly attributed to an expansion of Apple’s market share in China from 10% to 16%. Samsung took second place in the global brand ranking for 4Q21 with 71 million units, a 2.9% QoQ increase. In 2Q21, the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks in Vietnam affected smartphone production facilities in the country and lowered Samsung’s capacity utilization rate. But apart from that quarter, Samsung’s performance remained stable for the other three quarters of last year. For the ranking of smartphone brands by annual production, Samsung was still the leader for 2021 with 275 million units.
OPPO (including Realme and OnePlus) took third place in the ranking with a quarterly production of 48 million units, a 5.9% QoQ decrease, for 4Q21. Xiaomi (including Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark) took fourth place with a production of 45.5 million units, a 2.2% QoQ increase. Fifth-ranked Vivo (including iQoo), on the other hand, reduced its smartphone production by 11.8% QoQ to 30 million units. As these three Chinese brands’ target markets and product strategies show significant overlap, their control of key components that are currently in shortage will have a direct impact on their production volumes going forward. It should also be pointed out that Honor, which was spun off from Huawei in early 2021 and underwent a period of corporate restructuring and component procurement in 1H21, experienced a meteoric rise in 2H21. Much like other Chinese brands, Honor adopts a sales strategy that primarily focuses on the Chinese market, meaning Honor’s smartphone business will continue to affect OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo, all of which place a top priority on domestic sales.
Annual smartphone production for 2022 will likely reach 1.381 billion units despite potential decline
Assuming that the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow, TrendForce expects annual smartphone production for 2022 to undergo a slight YoY increase of 3.6% to 1.381 billion units. Not only is smartphone demand expected to decline in China, which represents the largest consumer market in the world, but other markets will also exhibit only limited growth. Hence, the leading growth drivers will come from both cyclical replacement demand and new demand from emerging markets. Notably, in addition to factors such as foundry capacity allocation, global inflation, and energy shortage, whether an economic recovery will bring about positive change for the smartphone market will continue to influence the overall performance of the industry. TrendForce therefore believes that the annual smartphone production for 2022 may still face potential downside risks.
Regardless, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine has generated a host of issues including exchange rates, inflation, and logistics problems that affect smartphone sales in Eastern Europe. With regards to the market share of smartphone brands in Russia and Ukraine last year, the top three brands by sales included Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple, with a combined 45 million units sold, accounting for 3% of the global total. Preliminary assessments indicate that the ongoing war will not have a drastic effect on smartphone production for 2022, though TrendForce also does not rule out the possibility that the resultant global economic problems may affect overall smartphone demand.
From 2020 to 2025, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12-inch equivalent wafer capacity at the world’s top ten foundries will be approximately 10% with the majority of these companies focusing on 12-inch capacity expansion, which will see a CAGR of approximately 13.2%, according to TrendForce’s research. In terms of 8-inch wafers, due to factors such as difficult to obtain equipment and whether capacity expansion is cost-effective, most fabs can only expand production slightly by means of capacity optimization, equating to a CAGR of only 3.3%. In terms of demand, the products primarily derived from 8-inch wafers, PMIC and Power Discrete, are driven by demand for electric vehicles, 5G smartphones, and servers. Stocking momentum has not fallen off, resulting in a serious shortage of 8-inch wafer production capacity that has festered since 2H19. Therefore, in order to mitigate competition for 8-inch capacity, a trend of shifting certain products to 12-inch production has gradually emerged. However, if shortages in overall 8-inch capacity is to be effectively alleviated, it is still necessary to wait for a large number of mainstream products to migrate to 12-inch production. The timeframe for this migration is estimated to be close to 2H23 into 2024.
PMIC and Audio Codec gradually transferred to 12-inch production, alleviating shortage of 8-inch production capacity
At present, mainstream products produced using 8-inch wafers include large-sized panel Driver IC, CIS, MCU, PMIC, Power Discrete (including MOSFET, IGBT), Fingerprint, Touch IC, and Audio Codec. Among them, there are plans to gradually migrate Audio Codec and some more severely backordered PMICs to the 12-inch process.
In terms of PMICs, other than certain PMICs used in Apple iPhones already manufactured at 12-inch 55nm, most mainstream PMIC processes are still at 8-inch 0.18-0.11μm. Burdened with the long-term supply shortage, IC design companies including Mediatek, Qualcomm, and Richtek have successively planned to transfer some PMICs to 12-inch 90/55nm production. However, since product process conversion requires time-consuming development and verification and total current production capacity of the 90/55nm BCD process is limited, short term relief to 8-inch production capacity remains small. Effective relief is expected in 2024 when large swathes of mainstream products migrate to 12-inch production.
In terms of Audio Codec, Audio Codecs for laptops are primarily manufactured on 8-inch wafers, and Realtek is the main supplier. In the 1H21, the squeeze on capacity delayed lead times which affected notebook computers shipments. Although the stocking efforts of certain tier1 customers proceeded smoothly in the second half of the year, these products remained difficult to obtain for some small and medium-sized customers. At present, Realtek has partnered with Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) to transfer the process development of laptop Audio Codecs from 8-inch to 12-inch 55nm. Mass production is forecast for mid-2022 and is expected to improve Audio Codec supply.
In addition to PMIC/Power Discrete, another mainstream product derived from 8-inch manufacturers is the large-sized panel Driver IC. Although most fabs still manufacture 8-inch wafers, Nexchip provides a 12-inch 0.11-0.15μm process technology used to produce large-sized Driver ICs. As production capacity at Nexchip grows rapidly, the supply of this product has been quite smooth. However, TrendForce believes that this is a special case. Mainstream large-sized Driver ICs are still manufactured on 8-inch wafers and there is no trend to switch to 12-inch wafers.
For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
According to TrendForce research, since reaching a peak of 1.457 billion units in 2017, it has been difficult for smartphones to significantly increase their penetration rate. In addition, mobile phone hardware updates have slowed which has lengthened the consumer replacement cycle. Add to this the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and growth in overall smartphone shipment volume has become increasingly difficult to achieve. However, based on the premise that the pandemic is slowing down, coupled with the strategy of certain brands actively exploring emerging markets, growth momentum in the global smartphone market has gradually gotten back on track in 2021, with shipments reaching 1.333 billion units, or 6.4% growth YoY. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2022, with shipments expected to reach 1.386 billion, or 4% growth YoY.
TrendForce emphasizes, it should be noted that the status of the pandemic is still the biggest concern affecting the smartphone market this year and this applies doubly to the production capacity of semiconductors. The current problem of material shortages has yet to be alleviated and RF chips, OLED DDICs, and PMICs continue to be in short supply. In addition, issues such as China’s rolling blackouts, spiking shipping costs, and rising chip costs, will cause smartphone brands to face price pressures and it remains to be seen whether higher prices will be acceptable to consumers.
Judging from the 2022 brand market share forecast, Samsung will remain number one followed by Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO, and Transsion. Among these companies, Xiaomi is the brand with the fastest-growing annual shipment growth rate. In addition to stimulating sales in the Chinese market through the strategy of expanding brick and mortar stores, Xiaomi’s sales occur mostly overseas, and it is first in market share in India and Russia. In the future, it will continue to explore the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa markets.
Four keys to mobile phone trends in 2022
Folding phones, 5G, self-developed chips, and a reduction in the number of rear-facing cameras are the four keys to focus on this year. In terms of 5G mobile phones, the global penetration rate in 2021 was 37%, this is expected to rise to 47% in 2022, and may exceed 50% by 2023. At present, China is the most active country in promoting 5G models. More than 80% of the country’s shipments are 5G mobile phones. Therefore, the key to increasing the global penetration rate of 5G mobile phones in the future is focusing on regions outside China.
Regarding self-developed chips, in the past, only Samsung, Apple, and Huawei were capable of self-developing chips. However, Google launched its self-developed Tensor processor in 2021, and Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO have each launched professional imaging chips in succession.
（Image credit: Apple）