Apple is seeking to reduce its dependence on third-party suppliers for iPhone components. One area that Apple is falling behind in compared to other flagship phones is power management and charging. With the rise of fast-charging technologies and smartphones slowly but steadily increasing battery capacity, delivering power is an important step often ignored by buyers.
The current generation of iPhones mainly rely on components from Dialog Semiconductor. Nearly three quarters of Dialog's business last year came from Apple acting as the sole provider of power management chips for iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone. "Based on Apple's current plan, they are set to replace partially, or around half of its power management chips to go into iPhones by itself starting next year," said an industry source wishing to remain anonymous.
A second source confirmed that Apple would be working on its own power management integrated circuits but that they may not be ready until 2019. Regardless of when Apple's self-designed power regulators will be shipped, it is going to be a struggle to match the advanced manufacturing capabilities of Samsung Electronics. Apple already has designed its own mobile processor but outsources manufacturing to TSMC.
iPhones have historically had smaller capacity batteries than competitors but still achieve at least average run time. Switching to a custom power management system could further improve the integration of software and hardware that allows for less wasted energy. Finer control of power delivery could allow increased performance without a large hit to battery life.
As Apple designs more components in-house, some suppliers may struggle to survive on their own. Apple's graphics processor was designed by Imagination Technologies, but has since been sold to a Chinese investment fund after learning that graphics processing would also be done in-house.