DigiTimes: Apple's Travel Restrictions Could Delay iPhone 12 Launch Until October
Apple's ban on its engineers from traveling to Asia in the wake of the coronavirus has affected the development of its next-generation iPhone which could result in a delayed fall launch, claims a new report today from DigiTimes.
According to the supply chain-focused Taiwanese publication, Apple has extended the deadline by one month to the end of April for the removal of a set of travel restrictions preventing its engineers from making business trips to Asia, and the restrictions have delayed the engineering verification tests (EVTs) for the 5G iPhones at manufacturing facilities in China.
Related supply chain makers had originally expected the rescheduled EVT procedures to be carried out by the end of March enabling the kick-off of volume production of the new iPhone devices in June, said the sources, adding that a further delay of EVT tests to the end of April could postpone the volume production by another 1-2 months.
Judging from the revised EVT schedule, Apple's product launch for the next-generation iPhone devices could to be postponed to October, said the sources.
Apple's travel restrictions were first reported late last month. The restrictions apply to several countries hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including China, which is an issue because Apple engineers often visit China at this time of year to prepare for the manufacturing of new iPhones.
Production of new devices usually kicks off in the summer, but during the first months of the year, Apple employees visit China to perfect assembly processes with manufacturing partners like Foxconn.
These delays could eat into the time Apple needs to finalize orders for chips and other iPhone components that need to be made well in advance of when full production begins. However, supply chain experts told Reuters in late February that Apple still has time to keep the iPhone schedule on track, despite the travel restrictions.
"We have instituted specific travel restrictions in a few countries including China, South Korea, and Italy," Apple said in a memo sent out to employees last week. Apple is recommending that employees manage meetings through phone calls and video chats instead.
Apple plans to release four new iPhone models in the fall, according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The all-OLED lineup is said to consist of 5.4-inch, two 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models, all of which will support 5G.
DigiTimes predicts that overall shipments of 5G-enabled smartphones will be much lower in the first-half of 2020 than originally expected, due to the influence of the outbreak.