Apple 5S supplies may be tight over fingerprint sensor

Yields on Apple's 5S fingerprint sensor may mean fewer units being shipped initially. One analysts says suppliers are cutting build estimates.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple's iPhone 5S may be in short supply initially as preorders ramp because of poor yields on its fingerprint sensor, according to an analyst.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a research note that there are likely to be supply constraints on the iPhone 5S, the high-end smartphone from Apple. Apple is expected to be able to crank out iPhone 5C devices, which are essentially the iPhone 5 with colorful casing.

According to Misek's checks, suppliers are getting build plan cuts for the quarters ahead. For the Sept. quarter, Misek expects 5 million to 10 million iPhone 5S devices to be built with 20 million iPhone 5C units.

In the calendar fourth quarter, Apple suppliers are expecting 20 million to 25 million iPhone 5S devices to be built, but 15 million more likely. Misek noted that projections were volatile.

Those supply constraints may indicate why Apple is pushing the iPhone 5C as the mass market phone over the higher end iPhone 5S.

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In a research note, Misek said:

The 5s has few changes vs. the 5 and is using the same process node for the A7 app processor. Our checks indicate that the fingerprint sensor yields have been terrible and are the likely culprit for the H2 build plan cuts.

Like other analysts, Misek questions whether Apple can make an emerging markets play with the iPhone 5C's price. Overall, he cut Apple's iPhone fiscal 2014 unit estimate to 147 million, down from 162 million.

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