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iPhone 9 release date in serious danger due to coronavirus

iPhone 9
(Image credit: @OnLeaks/iGeeksBlog)

New reports from Apple assembly factories and suppliers in Asia indicate that iPhone production will not improve until much later in the year, which could be bad news for the iPhone 9

We knew that the coronavirus was going to affect the iPhone SE 2 / iPhone 9, a case that was later confirmed by Apple. 

“We do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter due to two main factors," Apple wrote in a statement to Metro. "Worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained. While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province — and while all of these facilities have reopened — they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated.”

But now — according to Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest report from the Chinese coronavirus frontline — the situation may not get better until much later in the year. MacRumors is reporting on the new research note by famed Apple analyst, which claims the Cupertino company will have to wait until the second quarter to see any “significant” improvement in production throughput.

iPhone 9 in danger, iPhone 12 ripples

It is bad news for anyone looking to get Apple’s next low-cost compact phone, which Kuo says may only cost $399, while other rumors points at a $349 price tag. Both are great prices compared to the iPhone 11 — or the future iPhone 12. That means that, like the original iPhone SE, this new low cost model will probably be a best-seller.

However, it’s hard to be a best-seller if the phones can't leave the factory fast enough. Kuo says there will further manufacturing delays as employees are taking even longer than initially expected to return to work. 

Part stock levels are suffering from supply problems too. Kuo cites one example: iPhone lens manufacturer Genius Electronic Optical only has parts for about a month — and it is not planning to resume production in any significant way until "May at the earliest."

Kuo claimed in the past that Apple is keeping a spring launch for the the iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9. Blogger and expert rumormonger Evan Blass, claimed the release of the iPhone 9 will happen around the middle of March. There was also a Bloomberg report claiming that iPhone SE 2 production will ramp up in February for a March release, echoing other rumors.

But if Kuo’s latest report is true, it seems unlikely that all this will happen. Perhaps Apple will push back the launch until it knows it can satisfy demand. But, right now, there are simply not enough manufacturing capabilities or available parts to guarantee normal production of a blockbusting cellphone like the iPhone SE 2. 

The even bigger question is whether the iPhone 12 will suffer the aftermath of the coronavirus. It’s not illogical to think that current supply problems will create a ripple effect that will affect Apple’s 2020 flagship.

Of course, since Apple hasn’t announced any launch event of the iPhone 9 or iPhone SE 2, it is not going to be “late” in the strict sense of the term. Remember that all the iPhone SE 2 launch dates rumors are just that: rumors. But the coronavirus appears to be making an impact on the launch of major products -- not only for Apple but for the rest of the industry as well.

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.