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iPhone 9 launch: Bad news if you were planning to buy one in March

iPhone SE from back
(Image credit: Future)

Will the iPhone 9 (or the iPhone SE 2) ever see the light of day? We're supposedly closer than ever to a reveal, yet the coronavirus outbreak is continuing to curb Apple's plans.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, mass production of the upcoming low-cost iPhone was supposed to begin by the end of February, though it could now be delayed well into March. That's because suppliers in China are reportedly "operating at around 30% to 50% of capacity," one source told the publication.

While Nikkei reports that some suppliers are finally beginning to ramp production back up to pre-virus conditions, the recovery is taking longer than expected. Many employees are expected to return to work beginning next week, following the end of Beijing's 14-day self-quarantine mandate, which should ease the setbacks.

But even then, measures to stem the spread of the virus will likely complicate logistics for some time. Deliveries have been slowed, due to restrictions about who is allowed to enter and leave certain provinces. And Apple is now cautioning investors that it won't make its revenue targets for the current quarter, as the coronavirus outbreak has impacted its iPhone supply line.

All the while, Apple has a range of new iPhone models to launch this year, between the iPhone 9 in the late winter or early spring, and the iPhone 12 range at the end of 2020, which is expected to include as many as four models. Existing devices are already facing delays, with Nikkei citing wait times of upwards of a week for specific iPhone 11 Pro configurations in the U.S. and U.K.

The iPhone 9's release date has been tipped for April 3, following a March 31 launch event — though that's all based on rumors at the moment, as Apple hasn't distributed invites for such a gathering yet. However, if iPhone 9 production continues to be stalled any further, it's possible that sale date could slide by a number of weeks, and perhaps even complicate Apple's year-end iPhone plans.

If you were looking forward to picking up a relatively cheap iPhone in the coming months, the news is frustrating. That said, the iPhone 8 is very reasonably priced these days, starting at just $449, and remains a strong choice for budget shoppers — so have a look at iPhone deals to see if any of them strike your fancy.