Sales Numbers, New Betas and Bugs, and Fresh Teardowns Seen From the Observation Deck

The Daily Observation Deck Feature

In today’s scan from the Observation Deck, we can see that the iPhone 14 Pro is still faring well despite our not-so-good-looking times. The iPhone 14 base models may not be selling as well as expected, though. We’ve also caught sight of new beta builds, more bugs and news on how easily one could repair the new Apple Watch Ultra. Speaking of things you probably shouldn’t do at home, we’ve got a challenge for you in today’s Daily Observations, so listen in and give us your thoughts.

WSJ: iPhone 14 Pro Looks Good in Not So Good Looking Times

If you follow Apple news — iPhone news specifically, there was nothing in Tuesday’s analysis piece from the Wall Street Journal that you have not heard. Still worth noting for a couple of reasons. First, the piece by Dan Gallagher did a great job of listing a number of positives for Apple’s latest phones at this point. Those include:

  • Off the chart demand/wait times for iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max
  • Differentiation between the consumer line and the Pro line apparently driving sales to the high end
  • Better subsidies and incentives from carriers than consumers have seen in quite some time 

That list is one thing that makes the Journal piece notable. The other is the sentiment. Apple’s fourth-quarter of fiscal year 2022 ended over the weekend. While iPhone is not all Apple has going for it, Gallagher thinks Apple’s latest communicator likely sent the September-quarter out on a high note. 

Not that the piece is all “party time excellent.” Noting the strength of the higher priced iPhone 14 Pros versus the consumer side, Gallagher says analysts expect the actual number of iPhone units sold to be the same this year versus last. Headed into that and a global economic slowdown, consensus estimates still show iPhone revenue rising roughly 4% over the September and December quarters.

Bloomberg Says Apple Has Cut Orders for iPhone 14 Line

Am I wrong in thinking that we’ve all been thinking that iPhone unit numbers for the 14 line were going to be inline with iPhone 13? I seem to remember hearing that a lot. I know we heard it just a minute ago from the Wall Street Journal. And yet, a story hit last night that’s likely to give a few people the agita. It came from Bloomberg (via Yahoo News Canada) under the headline, “Apple Ditches iPhone Production Increase After Demand Falters.”

Again, everything I remember hearing had Apple targeting roughly the same number of iPhones this year as last year, which actually looked pretty good what with the looming economic uncertainty. “…analysts expect the actual number of iPhone units sold to be the same this year versus last,” is what the Wall Street Journal said early Tuesday, before Bloomberg sounded whatever alarm it sounded. Speaking of which, the Bloomberg report says Apple:

…has told suppliers to pull back from efforts to increase assembly of the iPhone 14 product family by as many as 6 million units in the second half of this year, said the people, asking not to be named as the plans are not public. Instead, the company will aim to produce 90 million handsets for the period, roughly the same level as the prior year and in line with Apple’s original forecast this summer, the people said.

It’s at times like this that I remember what my grandmother used to say: Where’s my bourbon? 

Here’s the thing: The Bloomberg piece (penned by Debby Wu and Takashi Mochizuki) is seeing the same sorts of data everyone else has seen since iPhone 14 pre-orders started. That includes stronger demand for the Pro end of the line than the consumer end. It also includes a call by Apple for at least one supplier to shift production from the less expensive iPhone 14 to the more expensive Pro phones. 

So the only thing that’s changed, according to Bloomberg, is something that only Bloomberg seems to have known. 

Have a good Wednesday. 

Apple Hits Developers with a Slew of OS Betas

The ever lengthening parade of OS betas marches on. AppleInsider ran a report Tuesday announcing the third developer betas of iOS 16.1, watchOS 9.1, and tvOS 16.1. That same piece also noted the fourth developer beta of iPadOS 16.1, while a piece from MacRumors noted the availability of the ninth developer beta of macOS 13 Ventura.

What’s New in the Latest Betas?

Neat and new in the iOS beta — a piece from 9to5Mac says the nascent update for iPhone includes a Satellite Connection Demo for iPhone 14. Apple announced Emergency SOS via Satellite at this month’s “Far Out” media event. The way Apple describes it, the feature lets users:

…connect with emergency services under exceptional circumstances when no other means of reaching emergency services are available. If you call or text emergency services and can’t connect because you’re outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, your iPhone tries to connect you via satellite to the help that you need.

The cautious among us may want to know how that’s gonna go before an actual emergency. For that theres the Satellite Connection Demo. “With this feature,” says 9to5Mac: 

…users will be able to see how Emergency SOS via Satellite works without having to go to a remote area without Wi-Fi and cellular signal. Code seen by 9to5Mac suggests that the demo feature will work pretty much the same way as Emergency SOS via Satellite, so it can also instruct users on how to use it in a real-life situation.

While spotted in the code, the site isn’t sure the demo will actually roll out in iOS 16.1. That update is expected in October, though Emergency SOS via Satellite won’t be active in the iPhone 14 line until November.

Tuesday’s iPadOS 16.1 developer beta packed a pretty big surprise. According to a piece from Engadget, Stage Manager is working its way onto older iPad Pro models than had been expected. Stage Manager is Apple’s new stab at multitasking for the tablet. While it had been expected on iPad Pros powered by the M1 processor and later, the report says the feature will  “be available on the 2018 and 2020 models that use the A12X and A12Z chips rather than just the M1.” 

That said, it’s not the full Stage Manager experience. The piece says:

…for the older iPad Pro models — Stage Manager will only work on the iPad’s [built-in] display. You won’t be able to extend your display to an external monitor.

New Feature: “It’s not just you!”

Of course, we’re also seeing a handful of new bugs rear their ugly heads. Some of these are related to video editing after updating to iOS 16, while others are connection issues with the iPhone 14. There are also microphone issues on the newest Apple Watch models and more.

Lights! Camera! Crap.

Having a problem with Cinematic videos in iMovie and Final Cut Pro after updating to iOS 16? It’s not just you! A piece from 9to5Mac says folks in the Apple Support forums and on Reddit are reporting that, as well. It seems folks using those editors “can no longer open Cinematic videos recorded with an iPhone running iOS 16.” Here’s hoping Apple fixes it.

Mic Check Failing on Latest Apple Watches

Got a problem with the microphone on your Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra? It’s not just you! A piece from MacRumors cites the MacRumors forums and the Apple Support Community forums saying:

A growing number of user reports online suggest the microphone on some new Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra models can become persistently unresponsive after an unspecified amount of time, causing apps that rely on the mic to throw up errors and stop working.

Throwing up? Ewwww… You really hope Apple has a fix for that. 

“Big Red” Losing Touch with iPhone 14 Pro

Are you a Verizon usin’, iPhone 14 Pro totin’ person with cellular connectivity issues? It’s not just you! Another piece from MacRumors cites multiple Reddit threads (1,2,3) and its own MacRumors forums saying:

…customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping.

As indicated, complaints center on the Pro end of the iPhone 14 line specifically. Not sure who needs to fix that. Pray to the deity of your choice. 

And the Rest…

Still feeling buggy and like all your power’s drained? Ain’t that just the way these days? Sorry — It’s not just you! Two weeks and two days into life of iOS 16, yet another piece from MacRumors says bugs are still flying in fast and furious. Among some the site has seen:

“Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart…” It’s not just you.

iFixit: Ultra Model Puts Apple Watch on Road to Repairability

Apple Watch Ultra may be easier to fix than previously thought. Like — even easier than we thought yesterday. I told you Tuesday of an iFixit teardown video of Apple’s rough-and-tumble wearable. That one had the guy doing the teardown — a guy who knows what he’s doing — accidentally breaking the display. 

The exposed screws on the device might have had some thinking self-repair would be easy peasy. The iFixit breakage almost immediately had people thinking otherwise. But now, a full-ish teardown from iFixit gives the outfit hope for repairability. 

CNET has written up the fight-for-your-right-to-repair-people’s post. That’s got iFixit indicating that the device “will be better suited to repairs” than other Apple Watch models. Not unlike the consumer level iPhone 14, Apple Watch Ultra relies less on glue and more on screws. The four pentalobe screws on the device “means the sensor can be replaced relatively quickly and easily,” according to the write-up. The battery, meanwhile, “is protected by a metal casing that’s secured with four screws — rather than adhesive — making a battery replacement much easier.”

The display is a bear, though, so heads-up. 

I said this was a full-ish teardown. iFixit still seems to be holding out on a 1-to-10 repairability rating. Still, the organization seems impressed with the direction Apple Watch Ultra is headed. Quoting iFixit:

While Apple made a big deal of features like a long-awaited Action Button, massive screen, and dive computer capabilities, it once again buried what may be the biggest leap in the Watch’s design. Just as it neglected to mention with its radically rebuilt iPhone 14, Apple has made a potentially giant step towards making the Watch more repairable.

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