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Kuo: Sunny Optical the big iPhone 14 wide camera supply winner

BGR 8/1/2022 Chris Smith
iPhone 13 Pro Camera © Provided by BGR iPhone 13 Pro Camera

Apple hasn’t announced the launch event, but the iPhone 14 series will be unveiled in September. It’s practically a guarantee at this point. Apple did not signal any launch delay issues for the 2022 iPhones during its June earnings call. Separately, we saw plenty of reports detailing the supply chain of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. Those stories detailed issues that Apple has had to deal with to prevent disruptions.

The latest iPhone 14 supply chain information comes from the same trusted source. Ming-Chi Kuo has detailed some of Apple’s challenges in the past few months. He also presented Apple’s fixes to keep production on schedule. The latest note signals one of Apple’s camera parts suppliers as one of the big winners of iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro orders: Sunny Optical.

Camera differences between iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14

The iPhone 14 series will deliver the most significant camera differences between the two regular iPhones and the Pro models in recent years. The camera experience hasn’t been identical across the board in previous generations either.

The Pro models feature a third telephoto lens that joins the wide and ultra-wide sensors of the non-Pro units. And the Pro Max might sport unique features from time to time. Like the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) that later made it into all iPhone 13 models.

But Apple has used the same cameras for all same-year iPhone models. And Apple has employed nearly identical 12-megapixel sensors in iPhones for several years. That means same-year iPhones would offer almost similar photo and video experiences.

iPhone 14 Pro render: Apple's new display design. © Provided by BGR iPhone 14 Pro render: Apple's new display design.

That all changes with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. These will be Apple’s first iPhones to get 48-megapixel wide sensors. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus/Max will stay on 12-megapixel sensors for the wide cameras, probably in line with the iPhone 13 Pro models.

That’s all according to rumors from various sources. The 48-megapixel sensor upgrade is one of the leading hardware differences between the non-Pro and Pro units that will help Apple justify a price increase for the Pro experience.

Ming-Chi Kuo has offered plenty of details about the expected iPhone 14 camera experience in the past few months. A few days ago, he mentioned quality issues with camera coatings that forced Apple to switch order allotment between suppliers to prevent component shortages. The analyst leveraged his supply chain connections for years to provide accurate information about Apple’s plans.

Apple’s iPhone 14 supply deals

In his newest note on Medium, Kuo claimed that Sunny Optical is the big winner of Apple’s orders for wide camera 7P lenses.

The seven-element lens goes on top of the wide camera sensor, and it’s responsible for transporting light to it.

Sunny Optical will reportedly mass-produce high-end wide 7P lenses for the iPhone 14 Pro models. Kup also claims the company will manufacture lower-end 7P lenses for the wide cameras in the cheaper iPhone 14 models.

iPhone 14 Pro rear camera module to be larger than iPhone 13 Pro. © Provided by BGR iPhone 14 Pro rear camera module to be larger than iPhone 13 Pro.

Moreover, Sunny Optical has won the most orders for each type of lens. The report says the company will supply 50-60% of the 7P lenses in the iPhone 14 Pro models and 55-65% of the 7P wide lenses for the non-Pro units. Largan and Genius make up the rest of the lens supply for the four 2022 iPhones.

“Among iPhone lenses, the wide lens is the largest contributor to profit,” Kuo says. “Hence, the critical impact of Sunny Optical’s significant market share gain of the wide lens on Largan and Genius is profit, not revenue.”

Sunny Optical has increased capacity and is looking to obtain more Apple orders by lowering the asking price. Largan’s price for 7P lenses is 15-25% higher. The company won’t be impacted by Sunny Optical’s increase in market share.

Finally, Kuo said in its note that Sunny Optical will become the main supplier of the Time-of-Flight (ToF) lens for the iPhone 15 models next year. That’s the LiDAR camera that debuted with the iPhone 12 series, which is only available on Pro models.

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