Apple is planning to delay the launch of its anticipated 5G iPhone models by months, according to a new media report. The shift in plans could mainly due to the coronavirus outbreak that has impacted demand and supply operations of technology companies globally. Originally, the Cupertino company was speculated to retain its schedule of launching its new iPhone devices in September. JPMorgan analysts in a new note also mentioned that the launch of the 5G iPhone models could be pushed by one or two months.
Discussing the possibility of delaying the launch by months, Apple has held internal meetings, reports Nikkei Asian Review, citing people familiar with the development. One of the key reasons behind planning the delay is fall in demand in the smartphone market due to the coronavirus outbreak that has affected over hundreds of countries globally.
Additionally, Apple is facing supply chain constraints thanks to the closure of various manufacturing plants in China, India, and other markets to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease is apparently caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Apple is said to have four different models of its new iPhone family that it was planning to launch later this year. It also reportedly directed its supply partners to develop up to 100 million units of its latest lineup for 2020. Similarly, a prototype for the new models was planned to be developed from early March. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has seemingly impacted Apple's original plans.
“Apple will make a final decision around May at the latest, given the fluid situation globally,” one of the sources told the business journal.
Suppliers have not yet been officially notified of the delay, the report said, adding that Apple is urging many of them to fill in the gap due to coronavirus-related issues.
In a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasised that the slowdown pushed through the pandemic was a “temporary condition, not a long-term kind of thing.” The company also recently reopened some of its retail stores in China to overcome the hurdles -- to some extent at least.
Having said that, Apple has reportedly instructed some component suppliers to defer their mass production plans for about two to three months.
JPMorgan analysts in their note also speculated the delay in the launch of 5G iPhone models. As reported by CNBC, the analysts noted that there could be rescheduling of one or two months for reasons including production issues due to travel restrictions and slower growth of 5G networks in global markets -- all due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Apple's retail stores outside China are closed in response to COVID-19. Similarly, many of the company's employees are working from home to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. All this could result in the delay.
“Given multiple bottlenecks in EVT (engineering verification test, now scheduled in mid-April) and PVT (Production verification test) and pilot production (now scheduled for late June) due to recent travel restrictions imposed globally, we believe that a 1-2 month delay in iPhone launch could indeed happen, but we do not believe that a one-to-two quarter delay is very likely,” wrote JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan in the note targeting at Apple's chip manufacturer TSMC, as quoted by the news source.
Apple is already behind the competition if we look at the 5G models introduced by Samsung and Huawei. However, the arrival of its 5G iPhone models was projected to help the company boost its growth in the financial year 2021.
The 5G iPhone models would include two versions with 6GB of RAM. The lineup would also have a custom antenna design and the all-new Apple A14 chip.
In contrast with the latest revelations, a report by Bloomberg last week noted that the launch of the 5G iPhone models was “on schedule” despite the ongoing delays in production. That report also noted that “mass production isn't due to begin until May”.
Apple didn't comment on the launch schedule of its next-generation iPhone models.