Apple expected to double base storage on iPhone 7 to 32GB

Reports also indicate Apple will boost the max storage to 256GB

One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone 6 and 6S' entry-level models is that they're well behind the RAM and ROM curve with just 1GB of memory and 16GB of NAND flash. Many rival smartphones offer twice as much or more.

Apple has chosen to leave its base model memory capacities unchanged since the debut of the iPhone 5 in 2012.

That, however, is about to change, according to an IHS analyst who described Apple plans to double both the RAM and ROM on the next iPhone release, which is expected to be unveiled in September as the iPhone 7.

Kevin Wang, director of market research at analytics firm IHS Technology, posted on the Chinese website Weibo that "supply chain research shows that the new iPhone's RAM is 2GB, ROM 32GB."

While Apple left the iPhone 6 and 6S base models alone, it did double NAND flash on the next highest model from 32GB to 64GB.

Earlier this month, a separate site leaked photos of alleged iPhone 7 components that appeared to crush hopes that Apple would up the smartphone's base memory. That leak displayed several key upgrades to the iPhone 7, including three SanDisk NAND flash solid state drives with 16GB, 64GB and 256GB storage capacities, which indicated Apple plans on increasing the upper storage capacity while maintaining the base capacity over three iPhone model lifespans.

By comparison, competing smartphones released a year ago, such as the Galaxy S6, come with a base 3GB of RAM and 32GB NAND flash storage.

NAND flash and DRAM prices have continued to drop sharply over the past two years, according to marketing research firm DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce.

A significant uptick in the density of NAND flash due to triple-level cell (3 bits per cell) NAND flash combined with 3D NAND, which stacks layers of NAND flash one atop another like a microscopic skyscraper, have allowed manufacturers to drastically cut production costs.

Prices for NAND flash chips sold to device makers dropped 10% year over year in the first quarter of 2016, according to DRAMeXchange.

Two major storage options in the iPhone 6 and 6S series and iPhone 6/6S Plus -- 64GB and 128GB -- make up over 60% of the cumulative shipments of iPhone line from their market releases to now, according to Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange.

Consequently, the iPhone as an individual product accounted for the largest share of the overall NAND consumption in 2015 at 15%, up from 12% in 2014.

Yang corroborated reports that Apple is expected to raise the maximum storage capacity of the next iPhone to 256GB, so the first wave of related stock-up demand will likely give a huge boost to the NAND Flash market.

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Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
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