The World’s Largest iPhone Factory is Recovering to Near-Normal Levels: Report

The world’s largest iPhone factory, operated by Apple supplier Foxconn in Zhengzhou, China, has ramped back up to 70% capacity after production was wracked by COVID-19 slowdowns and violent worker protests these past couple of months — reports The Wall Street Journal.

Foxconn assembles the majority of Apple’s global supply of high-end iPhone 14 Pro models at its Zhengzhou facility, which is often referred to as “iPhone City” and employs up to 300,000 workers at peak times.

Production disruptions in China ultimately crushed iPhone 14 Pro supply in Apple’s all-important holiday quarter. The divide between demand and supply got so bad that Apple last month warned customers of low iPhone 14 Pro stock and long wait times.

At the beginning of this month, delivery estimates for all iPhone 14 Pro models in the U.S. were pegged at four weeks, slipping well beyond Christmas. However, supply is now getting better and catching back up with demand.

“Supply is improving and inching slowly toward parity with demand,” J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee said about the iPhone 14 Pro in an investor note this week.

In the U.S. and China, Apple’s websites now show wait times of one to two weeks for iPhone 14 Pro models. Some configurations are even available for immediate pickup at some Apple stores in both countries.

A report from earlier this month estimated that Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant would resume full production by late December or early January. According to analysts and people involved in the supply chain, the parts of the facility that assemble iPhones have recovered to about 70% capacity.

The news comes just over two weeks after Foxconn lifted the lockdown at its Zhengzhou factory. Sources said the company is still struggling to fully recover, though.

Foxconn is now grappling with labour shortages after many of its workers walked out as unrest grew. This week, Foxconn offered bonuses of about $700 USD to key manufacturing workers who stay with the company through March 20, 2023.

Apple’s recent supply chain woes in China have highlighted the risks of its dependence on the global manufacturing hub. As a result, Apple is reportedly accelerating plans to move more of its production to other Asian countries.