According to a recently published IHS report, Apple will purchase more than one billion MEMS microphones in 2016 for the iPhone. Apple shifted from three MEMS microphones in the iPhone 6 line to four in the iPhone 6S line. The move to four microphones is currently being driven by hands-free calling and voice commands for Siri which is becoming an increasingly important means of interaction between consumers and their iPhone and Apple Watch. Additional MEMS microphones are also added on the back of the phone for richer audio fidelity in video recording, noise cancellation and better call and recording performance.
"Prior to Apple, Microsoft and Motorola had already introduced some smartphones with four MEMS microphones, but in lower volumes," said Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS and Sensors for IHS Technology. "Following Apple's lead, additional manufacturers are expected to start including between two and four MEMS microphones in mobile handsets."
Apple is expected to purchase more MEMS microphones than Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and LG Electronics combined in 2016, IHS indicated. When counting the MEMS microphones used for the iPad, and for the earbuds sold with Apple Watch and MacBook notebooks, Apple accounted for a third of the total consumption of MEMS microphones in 2015.
The report noted that Knowles is the leader in this field and the EETimes reported back in September that they won the microphone slots in the iPhone 6s. Other OEMs include Goertek, STMicroelectronics and AAC which have also recently sold their products to Apple.