The surprising success of Apple’s glossy black iPhone could lead the company to rethink its next iPhone models, according to one of the most knowledgeable Apple analysts.
Apple is likely to adopt glass casing in its new iPhone models next year, according to a research note distributed to clients on Monday by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and obtained by Business Insider.
One major reason for a glass iPhone according to Kuo: Consumers seem to love glossy finishes, especially in China. It’s a lot easier to make glass glossy than the aluminum Apple currently uses. Apple is currently having trouble producing enough glossy black iPhone 7 units.
But it’s impossible to make a phone completely out of glass. The technology necessary to mass-produce a glass iPhone simply isn’t ready yet. And a fully glass iPhone might be too fragile.
“Should Apple raise the weighting of glass casing, we see 2.5D glass casing (not the 3D curved design) as being more likely to be adopted in light of mass production feasibility and the drop test,” Kuo writes.
World will go glass
Interestingly, Kuo suggests that Apple might use a stainless-steel metal frame to hold the glass and components. Apple currently doesn’t make iPhones out of stainless steel, but it does use the material for some of its higher-end Apple Watch models.
Apple might further distinguish its high-end iPhones – like its Plus models – with the stainless steel material. Kuo believes that Foxconn will “likely be the sole assembler” of next year’s high-end model.
Apple isn’t the only smartphone company trying to build a glass smartphone. In fact, the note suggests other phone makers will beat Apple to market introducing glass casing or new glossy finishes for metal.
“We believe glass casing will be the key trend for high-end smartphones over the next three to five years,” writes Kuo. Winners in Apple’s supply chain include Corning, which makes Apple’s glass, and Lens Technology and Biel Crystal, which does glass casing manufacture.
Ultimately, KGI Securities is “upbeat” on iPhone shipments next fall on the back of the new look and other upgrades.
Previous reports suggest Apple could introduce wireless charging and an edge-to-edge screen on the next iPhone.