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iPhone 9 enters mass production as release date nears

iPhone 9 could look just like the iPhone 8
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 9 has reportedly entered mass production. But will it actually hit (virtual) store shelves soon? 

This latest iPhone rumor comes via a brief tweet by vlogger Jon Prosser, who has a decent track record on nailing rumors. However, just a few days ago Prosser also said that the iPhone 9 had been delayed indefinitely.

So what's actually happening with the iPhone 9? Here's why Apple may still delay its new phone — and why it might not. 

Why the iPhone 9 could be delayed

Even while it may be in production, there are many things going against the imminent release of the iPhone 9.

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The problems start with the coronavirus pandemic. As Prosser claimed in his previous report, Apple has been trying to “outrun the virus” but it has not been able to. He then claimed that his sources at Apple say production of the iPhone 9 is not the problem (as we can see by his recent tweet). It is everything else.

First, the current situation is too volatile. So much so, Prosser said, that Apple doesn’t want to commit to anything.

There's also the fact that there are no Apple Stores open outside of China. And, with countries extending their quarantines, they may not be open any time in the foreseeable future.

And finally, we can assume that the iPhone 9 will be a big hit. The market has been looking for an affordable, speedy Apple iPhone for a long time. The iPhone 9 is that phone and it’s poised to become a bestseller. 

But with everyone panicking and bracing for the harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, is this really the time to launch such a potential blockbuster, or would it be better to wait until the situation clears a little bit?

I’m sure that all of these questions are on the minds of Tim Cook and company. And, like Prosser said in his previous report, it’s likely that the company will play things safe for the time being. 

Thus, Apple may be mass producing the iPhone 9 — the company could be under contractual obligation with providers to do so or pay a steep penalty. But Apple could still be saving the phone for a better launch window, once the public feels more confident in buying new products. With immediate availability to boot.

Why the iPhone 9 could launch on time

iPhone SE from back

(Image credit: Future)

Then again, there are other factors that work in favor of a release coming soon, contrary to Prosser‘s earlier report.

First, Apple is known for its optimization of manufacturing and distribution processes. In fact, this was one of the factors that returned Apple to profitability after Jobs came on board. It was also one of Tim Cook’s obsessions when he was named COO of the company back in 2005. 

The fact is that holding millions of devices inside warehouses for an indefinite amount of time is not in line with Apple’s operating practices. That may have a much higher price than whatever penalty Apple has to pay to providers for not starting production as agreed — especially given the extenuating circumstances that could be used to get out of those agreement unscathed. 

So it seems unlikely that Apple would commit to mass producing the iPhone 9 with the intention of storing it and waiting for brighter times that may not come in many months — perhaps not until 2021. 

Plus, the closing of the Apple Stores and the coronavirus market uncertainties have not stopped Apple from releasing the iPad Pro 2020 and the new $999 MacBook Air 2020. While the former is an expensive device that will not sell anywhere near the level of a low cost iPhone 9, the latter could very possibly be another bestseller thanks to great specs in a great package and at a great price.

And the verdict is...

The iPhone 9 launch can really go both ways. My gut feeling is that Apple will not wait long to launch the iPhone 9, despite Prosser's “indefinite delay” claims. And knowing Apple, my gut feeling is that nobody outside the board of directors and the top executive levels of the company knows the answer right now.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.