Report: Apple suppliers face production hiccup for iPhone 6 screens

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) suppliers are rushing to ensure that they have enough screens for the rollout of the iPhone 6, which Apple is expected to debut next month, after they were forced to redesign a key screen component and interrupt production, according to a Reuters report.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported that display panel production was disrupted after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be revised, which slowed and in some cases stopped production for parts of June and July. 

Apple had wanted to cut back to a single layer of backlight film, instead of the usual two layers, for the rumored iPhone with a 4.7-inch screen, which went into mass production ahead of the 5.5-inch variant Apple is also rumored to be planning. However, the display was not bright enough and the designs had to be reworked. The report said that output is back online and suppliers are working furiously to get back on schedule.

Apple has hired Japan Display, Sharp and LG Display to make the iPhone 6 screens, the report said, and representatives for those three suppliers and for Apple declined to comment, Reuters added.

It's unclear if the production difficulties will limit the amount of iPhones Apple has available at launch. Apple is reportedly preparing an initial production run of 70 to 80 million units, far larger than any previous iPhone launch The new iPhone--though it's unclear which model--is also rumored to include a scratch-resistant sapphire glass screen, which could complicate production. Further, Reuters reported that supply chain sources had previously said they faced challenges in designing the in-cell technology for the new iPhone's screen, which eliminates one of the layers in the LCD screen to make the phone thinner.

Apple is still the second-largest smartphone maker in the world by volume after Samsung Electronics, but its market share slipped year-over-year in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC, down to 11.9 percent from 13 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, the likes of Huawei, Lenovo and LG have been gaining share, and Apple is facing challenges in China from companies like Xiaomi that are rapidly gaining momentum.

Analysts have said that introducing larger-screened iPhones could help counteract the strength of Android smartphone makers that have found strong market demand for devices with screens larger than the 4-inch display Apple currently uses for its iPhone 5s and 5c.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article

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