iPhone 9 launch back on track? Not so fast

iphone 9 release date
(Image credit: Future)

Apple was reportedly going to launch its iPhone 9 (or iPhone SE 2) at an event at the end of March, but the coronavirus has thrown Apple and the entire electronics industry for a loop as Chinese factories have been shut down or been operating at limited capacity.

Now comes a ray of hope in the form of a new report from Reuters that says that Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, Foxconn, will be able to resume “normal production in China by the end of the month.” 

That sounds positive, but not for a highly anticipated $399 phone that was expected to ship next month. Foxconn is currently operating at only 50% capacity, which means that even Apple announced the phone as scheduled, the iPhone 9’s release date will likely still be delayed.

A separate CNN report reiterates what we’ve heard about the iPhone 9/iPhone SE 2 being pushed back. “Foxconn's reduced production capacity will also likely delay the launch of Apple's lower priced iPhone SE2, which was expected this month or next.” This is according to KGI Asia analyst Laura Chen.

Apple has already lowered its guidance for the second quarter due to expected supply shortages for its iPhones, but at least it appears production will be able to ramp back up soon.

But even assuming Foxconn is back at full strength by the end of March, it will be rushing to make up for lost time. And not just because of Apple. Foxconn makes products for Microsoft, Dell and Sony as well.

The iPhone 9 is expected to feature an iPhone 8-like design but with powerful components. Leaks point to a 4.7-inch display and Touch ID button but also a fast A13 Bionic chip on the inside. 

If the price for the iPhone 9 is indeed $399, it would give Apple a formidable rival to the upcoming Google Pixel 4a, which is expected to launch in May for the same price. 

Given that we’re already seeing shortages for the iPad Pro and other Apple products like the AirPods Pro, according to Bloomberg, it could be a very difficult task to get the iPhone 9 on shelves in April. 

Mark Spoonauer

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.