Apple is expected to launch new iPhones this fall, but according to the Nikkei Asian Review, unnamed sources claim the debut of the company’s first 5G smartphones might be delayed, due to COVID-19.
Sources claim the next iPhone development schedule might be up in the air:
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has held internal discussions on the possibility of delaying the launch by months, three people familiar with the matter said, while supply chain sources say practical hurdles could push back the release, originally scheduled for September.
“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.”
Previously, sources told Nikkei Apple had instructed its suppliers to get ready for 100 million iPhone 5G units, set to come in four different versions. But now Apple is apparently keeping an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it may affect its markets in the U.S. and Europe.
With “shelter in place” orders in California, Apple employees are forced to work from home, affecting the 5G iPhone launch timetable, claims one source. Another said, “Apple will make a final decision around May at the latest, given the fluid situation globally.”
Other factors affecting the development of 5G iPhones have been the various travel bans around the world, which is making it difficult for Apple employees to perform hands-on testing of prototypes in China. Concrete prototypes were slated for March, but were delayed due to COVID-19 getting worse in the U.S., claims sources.
“The discussion is still at an early stage, and the fall launch is not completely off the table,” said one unnamed source. “But the 5G iPhone could be postponed to 2021 in the worst-case scenario.”
Some Apple supplies told Nikkei they have been told to delay production to August, instead of normally sometime in June, suggesting an iPhone delay could be months in the making. A delayed iPhone would cause a domino effect for Apple’s suppliers financially.
Back in February, Reuters similarly reported Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup could be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.