Apple is reportedly starting production on the iPhone 8 earlier than it has started production on iPhones in previous years, according to BlueFin Research Partners. Cited by Barron’s Tech Trader Daily, the analysts said signs in Apple’s supply chain have pointed to an earlier start on production. That could mean anything.

“The most intriguing data points that we have uncovered suggests that AAPL is ramping the next generation iPhones earlier than historical norms, although we have no indication that there has been any change in release plans for the iPhone 8/X,” BlueFin said, the “X” representing a potential iPhone 8 Plus model that’s expected to launch alongside the entry-level iPhone 8. The report also suggests Apple is pulling back on production of the iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as manufacturing starts to shift to the newer device.

“The supply chain focus remains on the tremendous anticipation for a iPhone 8/X super cycle intertwined with some mid-year transition hurdles,” BlueFin said. “Interestingly, our present reads suggest a 300% increase in iPhone 8/X builds in the June quarter, now sitting at 9M. As a result, overall June quarter builds have increased from 45M to 48M, with the sharp increase in iPhone 8 offset somewhat by modest declines in legacy models. In the past, builds of upcoming releases began in earnest early in the September quarter, so this is a departure from AAPL’s normal build cadence.”

Why build the iPhone 8 early?

There are several reasons Apple might want to begin manufacturing early this year. First, it might want to make sure there’s enough stock for launch, which hasn’t been the case for the past several new iPhone introductions. Stock of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus was still fairly limited for some models even moving into the holidays, for example. Second, Apple may want to take the extra time to work out any kinks in the manufacturing process, something that’s worth considering if it’s really going to introduce a brand new iPhone 8 design. It’ll also help Apple avoid Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 battery disaster, I imagine. Finally, Apple may want to start building iPhone 8 units earlier in the off chance that it decides to launch the phone before September. I don’t think that’s very likely, though.

Concept images above created by Moh Slah.