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Overheating of the iPhone 15, setbacks in China… Apple’s delicate return to school

“Buy the rumor, sell the news.

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Overheating of the iPhone 15, setbacks in China… Apple’s delicate return to school

“Buy the rumor, sell the news.” Apple definitely subscribes to this saying dear to Wall Street. While it unveiled its latest addition, the iPhone 15, in mid-September, the group has experienced a decline in performance on the New York Stock Exchange since its annual back-to-school keynote. Certainly, this lull follows the usual period of frenzy surrounding the last weeks of pre-launch, during which speculation is rife on the expected new features. The 2023 edition was no exception: since September 1, Apple shares are down around 10%.

But on closer inspection, this year there is a different scent which is probably not to Apple's taste. For several days, the iPhone 15 has been in the sights of a controversy significant enough to force its manufacturer to come out of the woodwork on the subject. On social networks and consumer forums, testimonies have been piling up since the launch of the iPhone 15, reporting abnormal overheating of the device. The temperature would regularly exceed the 40°C mark, making it difficult to handle.

Faced with the slingshot, Apple first reminded that some iPhones could actually become hot in the first days of configuration, while the device must download all of the owners' data as well as updates. The group nevertheless recognized that the latest version of its operating system, iOS 17, contained a software anomaly which contributed to heating the device. A fix will be provided soon. Certain applications developed by third parties such as Uber or Instagram have also contributed to causing “system overload”, with Apple indicating that it is working with these “developers on fixes which are currently being deployed”.

Tim Cook's group nevertheless denies any design problem, the use of material such as titanium or a new chip designed by its Taiwanese partner TSMC. So many possible causes raised by analysts. Finally, it should be remembered that when using the device at full power, or using unsuitable charging cables, the smartphone may heat up.

This launch hiccup, which is not a first for an iPhone model, nevertheless comes at a time that is already a bit delicate for Apple. In the context of galloping inflation which is turning consumers away from smartphones, some analysts are concerned about sales levels which may not be there. The Californian group is however counting on its latest model to revive itself after a drop in iPhone sales of 2% in the last quarter compared to last year.

If it has compensated for this decline with ever higher revenues in its services division (Apple TV, Music, Arcade, Pay), the group needs its locomotive. The iPhone range still accounts for half of its revenues and a good part of the installed base of products on which the American firm sells precisely these services.

For Apple, these clouds add to great uncertainty coming from China. At the beginning of September, several media reported Beijing's change of tone towards the American manufacturer, historically spared in the Sino-American trade war. Apple products are now banned from civil servants and local administrations, according to these media. If Beijing refuted any targeted ban, the executive nevertheless maintained doubt by raising security incidents concerning the iPhone, and by indicating that the country was open to companies as long as they respected the “laws and regulations” . With 74.2 billion sales of products and services last year (19% of the total), China, which also assembles 95% of the group's iPhones, is a strategic market for Apple.

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