Iphone

Source: Apple.

Heading into the busy holiday quarter, investors have high expectations for both of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone 6 models. The current quarterly all-time record for iPhone unit sales is 51 million, which is what the Mac maker reported last holiday quarter. That's a high bar to clear, but the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will likely do just that.

Well, Apple might be ambitiously looking to build upwards of 100 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units this year.

A numbers game
Supply chain researcher NPD DisplaySearch has now released estimates on how many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus display panels Apple may have ordered from its usual three suppliers LG Display, Japan Display, and Sharp.

Model

Q3'14

Q4'14

2014

iPhone 6

28 million

46 million

74 million

iPhone 6 Plus

13 million

29 million

42 million

Total

41 million

75 million

116 million

Source: NPD DisplaySearch.

Those are some hefty estimates, but there are several important considerations to keep in mind. First off, Apple needs to build channel inventory (Apple's target range is 4 to 6 weeks), which is why it may have ordered over 40 million panels in Q3 despite the fact that the iPhone 6 launched less than 2 weeks before the quarter closes. At least 10 million units were sold during the first weekend alone.

Additionally, building iPhones precedes actually shipping the devices, so actual unit sales this year will be less. DisplaySearch believes Apple could end up shipping 70 million to 80 million units this year, and that the company is "clearly confident" heading into 2015.

Still, that range would be particularly impressive for the new iPhone 6, especially when considering the fact that these figures don't include older models. As the iPhone 5s and 5c follow the natural progression to lower price points, Apple's iPhone portfolio strengthens.

What's inside
On the technical front, DisplaySearch also outlines some of the new technologies being used in the iPhone 6 panels. The panels utilize negative in-plane-switching (IPS) for better contrast, as well as a thinner color filter. Also included is a slimmer light guide plate to facilitate the thinner designs.

Retina Hd Display

Source: Apple.

Apple's suppliers also now use a two-in-one LED package for higher brightness, while using a new brightness enhancement film that also helps brightness while reducing thickness. These new technologies are creating production challenges for suppliers and yields remain low but are steadily improving. In line with prior reports, panel shipments commenced in June as production ramped up ahead of the September launch.

Big or bigger?
One key question heading into the iPhone 6 launch was how demand would be split between the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models. It seems that Apple may be focusing its efforts on the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, which likely has broader mainstream appeal considering its more manageable size.

The whole "Bendgate" controversy probably doesn't help either, and could be adversely affecting demand for the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple has now officially responded to the situation, saying that only 9 people have complained directly to the company.

Tim Cook is naturally very bullish on the iPhone 6 upgrade cycle, and Apple is seemingly putting its money where its mouth is.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.