Apple’s biggest products of the year are seriously threatened by the coronavirus outbreak as we are now getting specific estimates for the first time on exactly how long the iPhone 12 and iPhone 9 could be delayed.
According to a report in Bloomberg, citing a Bank of America analyst note, the iPhone 12 launch could be delayed a month. This is based on conversations with supply chain expert Elliot Lan. But it gets worse.
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Lan said that he expects the launch of the iPhone 9 will be delayed “by a few months” due to “both supply issues as well as the weaker demand environment from COVID-19.”
We had already seen multiple reports of temporary factory closings in China due to the coronavirus, and last week it was reported that Apple’s biggest partner, Foxconn, did not expect to be back at full capacity until the end of March.
A new report from Digitimes says that the iPhone 12 will likely be delayed until October due to travel restrictions being placed on engineers. Apple cannot conduct the necessary engineering verification tests on the 5G iPhone, which is a critical step prior to mass production.
And this is a best-case scenario, as Digitimes writes that "if the spread of the virus cannot get under control and the EVT is further delayed after April, Apple's 5G iPhone, or the iPhone 12, devices could miss the shopping season for 2020."
The coronavirus epidemic has been wreaking havoc on the economy overall as the number of cases has surged past 100,000 worldwide and more than 3,500 people have died.
Apple previously lowered its own guidance for the second quarter as the result of an expected iPhone shortage and likely decreased demand for its products in China. The Bloomberg report says that Apple could face demand issues in other regions should the U.S. fall into a recession.
The iPhone 9 (or iPhone SE) was reportedly going to launch at a late March event, but that now seems highly unlikely. The phone is expected to cost $399 and give Apple a formidable competitor to Google’s upcoming Pixel 4a. A three-month delay would put the launch of the iPhone around June, which is when Apple’s WWDC 2020 event was due to kick off. But that event may be postponed as well.
As for the iPhone 12, that is supposed to be the first Apple phone with built-in 5G capability, but a month delay does not seem that drastic so long as Apple is able to hit the holiday shopping window.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.