Problems may arise with the iPhone 16

On January 30, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared a few tidbits about the upcoming iPhone 16 series — and none of it sounds good...
iPhone 16 pro max

Although it seems unlikely that the iPhone 16 will launch until September, a recent report regarding Apple's newest model has already sparked some apprehension. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for Apple, revealed several details on January 30 about the impending iPhone 16 series, none of which appear promising.

Apple is allegedly cutting back on its 2024 iPhone shipments to 200 million devices, which includes the current iPhone 15 series and the iPhone 16 later in the year, according to Kuo. Although that is a 15% drop from 2023, there is still a sizable number of iPhones. "Among the major global mobile phone brands in 2024, Apple may have the most significant decline," observes Kuo.

Why has the number of iPhone shipments dropped so sharply? According to Kuo, the iPhone is dealing with "structural challenges" that will lead to less shipments. "The emergence of a new paradigm in high-end mobile phone design" and "the ongoing decline in shipments in the Chinese market" are two of these problems.

The "new paradigm" that Kuo refers to is a reference to the growing acceptance of generative AI and foldable phone technology. Samsung, OnePlus, Google, and Motorola are the top players in the foldable industry. 

Google has long bragged about the AI capabilities of its Pixel phones, but Samsung is fully committing to AI with the Galaxy S24 and its new Galaxy AI platform. 

Furthermore, the AI push seems to be effective. Kuo said that "Apple has revised down the shipment forecast of the iPhone 15 in 1H24, while Samsung has revised up the shipments of the Galaxy S24 series in 2024 by 5% to 10%."

As for the decline in China, Kuo says the main reason for this is “the return of Huawei and the increasing preference for foldable phones among high-end users as their first choice for phone replacement.”

Worse, all of this is allegedly taking place in the midst of rumours that the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro are only minor upgrades to their iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro siblings. Although there have been some rumours of improved camera specifications and somewhat altered looks, 2024 is probably going to be a quiet year for the iPhone, especially in comparison to its rivals.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus (left) and iPhone 14 Plus Andy Boxall

Kuo doubles down on this in his report, writing, “It is expected that Apple will not launch new iPhone models with significant design changes and the more comprehensive/differentiated GenAI ecosystem/applications until 2025 at the earliest. Until then, it will likely harm Apple’s iPhone shipment momentum and ecosystem growth.”

Apple will likely still sell a lot of iPhones this year, and the iPhone 16 series will almost certainly be well-received devices. There’s also no confirmation that Kuo’s predicted 15% decrease will happen. However, there’s also the fact that Apple can only remain so safe with the iPhone before people start looking at other options, be it phones that fold or have fancy AI tricks. If the iPhone 16 doesn’t have an answer to those things, it looks like it may have a real, tangible impact on Apple — and one that won’t feel good.

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