Apple Could Delay 5G iPhone 12 Launch By Months

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A new report claims that Apple could delay the launch of its 5G iPhones due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it has affected global demand and disrupted the company’s supply chain.

Apple has held internal discussions with its executives on delaying the launch of the 5G iPhones by months. Other supply chain sources say that the phone’s launch can be delayed from September due to “practical hurdles.”

“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone,” said a source with direct knowledge of the discussion. “They need the first 5G iPhone to be a hit.”

Apple is yet to make a final decision on the launch timetable of the iPhone 12. It can only do so once the spread of the coronavirus is contained and things start going back to normal. Most of the the company’s employees are also working from home to adhere to the California government’s “shelter in place” order. This has affected the development cycle of the iPhone 12. The travel ban across the world have also affected the iPhone 12’s engineering development cycle as Apple engineers need to travel to China for this stage. As per one source, at the very least, the company will only take a final decision on the iPhone 12 launch around May.

“We are not giving it up yet. We are doing whatever we can to sort the issue out,” a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Nikkei.

“The discussion is still at an early stage, and the fall launch is not completely off the table,” one of the sources with direct knowledge of the issue said. “But the 5G iPhone could be postponed to 2021 in the worst-case scenario.”

Apple has also instructed some of its suppliers to delay the mass production of their components by two to three months. New iPhones tend to enter into mass production by June or July at the very maximum every year. This time around though, some suppliers have been told to ship components in large numbers only  by the end of August. This hints at a delay of the iPhone 12 launch by a few months. Such a delay would end up having a ripple effect and affect Apple’s future product roadmap as well.

Our Take

Given the current global situations, it is more than likely that Apple will end up delaying the launch of the iPhone 12 this year. Whether the delay is by a few weeks or months will depend on how quickly the spread of the COVID-19 virus is arrested in the United States and when things go back to normal there.

[Via Nikkei]