Apple’s all-new iPhone 12 is taking shape fast and, while the design looks familiar, it is all-change inside for one of the company’s biggest releases in years. But that release has now been cast in doubt.
Building on the recent Nikkei warnings about iPhone supply, a new exclusive from Reuters reveals that the impact of the Coronavirus on Apple’s ability to validate and fine-tune the assembly processes for the iPhone 12. These processes are critical on-location work with Reuter’s sources pointing out that there are numerous variables, right down to air quality levels for the production of various components, which make this time period crucial.
“There is no face-to-face work being done,” said a Reuters source, speaking about current smartphone production cycles in the country. “And the word is, that’s probably not going to change for another month at best. You’re really talking about two lost months, which in the consumer electronics cycle is huge.”
Reuters also cites a second insider who states that Apple’s transition process from iPhone prototype to the assembly of millions of units “starts in earnest” between late January and early February and by which time Apple has normally tested multiple prototypes as it finalizes a process called engineering validation. And this has to happen early “because of the huge volumes needed” for chips and other parts, which Reuters says are almost all custom-made.
And the consequences of this are becoming clearer to analysts with Dan Ives of powerhouse investor Wedbush, warning that a worst-case scenario sees Apple’s supply chain unable to hit full capacity until June with the iPhone 9 delayed until July and the iPhone 12 delayed past the holiday season in 2021. Such a delay would shock the whole industry.
Meanwhile, Apple is taking no chances. Having already issued an earnings warning caused by the virus, it has now warned all shareholders planning to attend its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow that a 14-day quarantine period is required for anyone who traveled to China this month. The company has also stated that it is working closely with public health experts and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it tries to make headway.
While public health trumps new smartphones every time, the delays are unfortunate given everything we know so far about Apple’s 2020 ambitions. The so-called iPhone 9 is meant to launch next month when it will become the most powerful small smartphone in the world. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 will support all-new display tech, a long-range 3D camera, potentially MacBook Pro-rivalling Apple A14 chip and a seemingly unique 5G implementation.
Expect this picture to keep changing. So watch this space.
Follow Gordon on Facebook
More On Forbes
Apple Issues Coronavirus Update As Insider Paints Dark Picture For iPhone Supplies
Apple iPhone 12: Everything We Know So Far
Apple iPhone SE2: Everything We Know So Far
Apple AirPods Pro Vs AirPods: What’s The Difference?