Japan’s Sharp was not part of Apple’s project to develop camera modules for the iPhone 16 Series at the current time, TheElec has learned.
As such projects usually start two years prior to the commercial launch, Sharp’s absence means it is effectively out of Cupertino’s camera module supply chain for the iPhone 16 series.
Sharp has been the second largest camera module supplier to Apple after rival LG Innotek. But the Japanese company lost momentum when its camera module factory in Vietnam halted production back in September 2021 due to the pandemic.
Sharp continued to see its supply of high-end models drop since then. LG Innotek is currently the dominant supplier of 3D time of flight modules in iPads and iPhones over its Japanese rival, sources said, with over 70% market share in Apple’s camera module supply chain.
LG Innotek is also expected to be the main supplier of folded zoom camera modules Apple plans to introduce on its iPhone 15 Pro Max this year.
Sharp’s removal means only three main camera suppliers remain for Apple: LG Innotek, Foxconn and Cowell.
LG Innotek is positioned to benefit the most as it mostly supplies the high-end camera modules used by the iPhone maker.
LG Innotek’s revenue doubled from 2020 to 2022 to 9.5 trillion won to 19.6 trillion won, over the same time period that Apple enjoyed high iPhone sales during the pandemic.
Foxconn, which assembles iPhones, has around a 10% market share in Apple’s camera module supply chain, while Cowell mostly supplies the front camera, which is cheaper than back cameras.
However, Cowell is expected to aim to supply back cameras, ToF and folded zoom modules as well, though it will take some time due to technological challenges.
Meanwhile, Apple is planning to introduce folded zoom on the Pro Max model of the iPhone 15 Series; it plans to apply the technology to Pro and Pro Max models of the iPhone 16 Series launching next year. Using folded zoom, which uses prism to bend the light, allows the image sensors to be thinner.