Coronavirus Outbreak Will Limit Supply of Apple’s iPhone 12
Apple’s supply chain in Taiwan is currently preparing to kick off production of the so-called iPhone 9, a lower-cost device that is sometimes referred to as the iPhone SE 2. According to a new paywalled report via DigiTimes, that device may actually be on track to make its planned release date.
That’s an interesting development since earlier reports suggested that the iPhone 9 may have been at the most risk of delay due to its impending release timeline. On the flip side, DigiTimes actually expects the upcoming iPhone 12 to see production-related issues due to the coronavirus outbreak instead.
The Taiwan-based publication reports that Apple has barred its engineers from traveling to China for Engineering Validation Tests (EVT) on the iPhone 12.
Last month, Apple restricted travel to China to “business critical” purposes because of the Wuhan coronavirus. EVT is an essential part of an iPhone’s development cycle, and this new report suggests that iPhone 12 production may fall behind as a result.
An inside supply chain source told DigiTimes that the iPhone 12 is unlikely to enter mass production in June. (Of course, the current coronavirus outbreak is a changing situation, so timelines can be shifted.)
Coronavirus Impact on the Tech Industry
What that means for consumers is unclear at this point. Even if production doesn’t start at the scheduled time, Apple could still debut the iPhone 12 models at a September keynote event. If it does and supply chain problems persist, it’s very possible that supply of the iPhone 12 will be much more constrained than usual.
Similar predictions have been made for other Apple devices. Earlier this month, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple was aggressively ramping up production of AirPods and AirPods Pro to mitigate any supply chain constraints. It is also urging its suppliers to build out facilities outside of China.
The Wuhan coronavirus has had a major impact on other manufacturers and the tech industry as a whole. Just today, the Mobile World Congress — the world’s largest mobile-focused trade show — was canceled due to concerns about the virus.
The 2020 iPhone Lineup
Apple is largely expected to debut at least four, and possibly five or six, new smartphone models this year.
The so-called iPhone 9, essentially an iPhone 8 with significantly upgraded internals, is likely to launch sometime within the first half of the year. There may even be an iPhone 9 Plus, according to one rumor.
In the fall, Apple is rumored to launch three or four new iPhone 12 models. That could include a low-cost 5.4-inch OLED smartphone, a mid-range 6.1-inch iPhone, and two premium “Pro” models with a 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch display respectively.
While the iPhone 9 is thought to be on-track, whether or not the other devices will be unveiled on-time remains to be seen. And even if they are, it may be hard for many users to get their hands on them.