Apple considers delaying 5G iPhone launch

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iPhone 12 with LiDAR scanner This is what the 2020 iPhone will probably look like.

iPhone fans who have been dying for a 5G upgrade might be kept waiting a little bit longer for new handsets this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple is reportedly having internal discussions debating whether or not to delay the launch of the 5G iPhone by months. The iPhone 12 was expected to be released this fall, but the Asian news site, Nikkei, reports supply chain problems might force the company to push the date back.

“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone,” said a source that spoke to Nikkei. “They need the first ‌5G iPhone‌ to be a hit.”

Apple allegedly had big ambitions for its first 5G iPhone and instructed suppliers to plan to make 100 million units for 2020. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the global economy into disarray, fans might not be willing to shell out money just for super-fast data speeds that are only available in limited areas of major cities.

Nikkei’s sources claim Apple plans to wait until around May to make a final decision on whether to delay the launch. The iPhone-maker is closely monitoring the outbreak situation in the US and Europe, its two largest smartphone markets.

Travel restrictions have hampered Apple’s ability to make final prototypes of the new iPhones with suppliers. The company supposedly planned to build more concrete prototypes in collaboration with suppliers starting in early March. That work has been postponed though as Apple employees in California are currently under a shelter-in-place order.

The worst-case scenario could see Apple postponing the 5G iPhone launch until 2021. That would certainly throw a wrench in Apple’s product roadmap release schedule and would signal that Apple believes the economy won’t recover as quickly as everyone is hoping.

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