Apple apparently isn't too happy with the power management chips it uses for the iPhone, and so as early as next year, it could take matters into its own hands.
Apple is reportedly considering plans to ditch its relationship with designer Dialog Semiconductor, according to Nikkei (opens in new tab), and instead design the chips on its own, much as it already does with its A-series central processors. If Apple takes this course of action, Taiwan Semiconductor will continue to actually make the chips, much as it already does for Dialog. In that regard, at least, this is a clear case of cutting out the middleman.
In the most hopeful case (for Apple), around half of the power management chips in the 2018 iPhones could be designed by Apple itself, says one source.
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There's a chance the chips might not actually be available until 2019, according to one of the sources, but even so, the market hasn't been too kind to Dialog in the wake of the news. Shares of Dialog stock were down almost 18% as of the time of writing, no doubt in large part because Apple's chips were responsible for around 74% of Dialog's revenue last year.
The sources claim that Apple's power management chips will be the most advanced in the industry, but of course we won't know that for sure until we actually see them in action in future phones (and iPads and Apple Watches). At the very least we'll almost certainly get better battery life, but how much is anyone's guess at the moment.
Apple has slowly been bringing most of its component design in-house over the course of the last decade, which naturally has been disastrous for old suppliers like Imagination Technologies (who used to make Apple's graphics chips), but if the gradual improvement of Apple's own devices serves as any indication, it's been a smart move for Apple itself.