"Technological issues" could be causing problems.

By Don Reisinger
July 13, 2017

Apple’s next big handset release might be delayed due to some problems in the supply chain, analysts predict.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts Wamsi Mohan and Stefano Pascale told investors in a note on Wednesday that Apple’s rumored flagship smartphone, the iPhone 8, could be delayed between three and four weeks due to “technology issues.” The analysts, whose note was earlier reported on by CNBC, said that Apple is “working through” the problems with its supplier partners. Apple has been rumored to be considering a September release for the smartphone. The analysts now suggest the smartphone could be released in October.

According to the analysts, who visited the Apple AAPL supply chain, its manufacturing partners are having trouble getting the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor and 3D-scanning technology working. The fingerprint sensor is said to be the first from Apple that would be integrated into its screen instead of added to a physical button that previously sat on the front of the smartphone. The 3D-scanning technology would be used to verify a person’s identity and allow him or her access to the iPhone’s software by scanning his or her face.

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Apple has been rumored for months to be working on three new iPhones this year. Two of those handsets, believed to be known as the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, will offer minor updates over last year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The third, believed to be known as iPhone 8, could come with a completely different design featuring an all-glass chassis. It could also have a screen that nearly entirely covers its face.

The iPhone maker’s screen choice has forced Apple to consider the display-based fingerprint sensor and 3D scanner. The new design will reportedly eliminate the area below the screen where the fingerprint sensor has been located in earlier iPhones. Apple then needs to use the 3D scanner and fingerprint sensor to authenticate users for access to the handset’s software, as well as make payments with its mobile-payment service Apple Pay.

The analysts didn’t say when Apple and its suppliers might be able to fix the iPhone’s problems. They also didn’t say whether Apple has set an expected release date.

However, the supply chain problems caused them to cut their iPhone sales forecasts for Apple’s 2017 fiscal year to 208.1 million. The analysts had anticipated 219.1 million iPhone shipments during the period.

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