Nikkei: ‘iPhone 12’ Final Assembly Could Be Delayed to Early October

Apple's "iPhone 12" lineup is facing mass production delays of between four weeks and two months because of postponements caused by factory lockdowns and workplace absences during the global health crisis, according to a new report from Nikkei Asian Review.

"What the progress looks like now is months of delay in terms of mass production, but Apple is doing everything it can to shorten the postponement. There's a chance that the schedule could still be moved ahead," one source told Nikkei.

"Some final iPhone assembly could be delayed to early October, and it wouldn't be surprising if there are further delays because there are still a lot of tests going on now and the final designs have not yet been locked down," the person said.
According to the report, Apple has aggressively tried to cut delays and is now less likely to postpone launch of the ‌iPhone 12‌ until next year, which was the situation it faced towards the end of March.

That is in agreement with a report from The Wall Street Journal in late April that said Apple still plans to launch its ‌iPhone 12‌ lineup in 2020, but mass production on the devices will be delayed for around a month.

On the other hand, Apple supplier Broadcom believes the 2020 ‌iPhone‌ models will be delayed for several weeks, and will launch later than usual in the fall.

Apple has reportedly asked suppliers to build more than 45 million iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone SE units for the second half of 2020, as a way of shielding the company in case of delays to its new 5G iPhones.

Information from Bloomberg continues to suggest that some of the new iPhones could be released "multiple weeks later than normal," though still within the typical fall window.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the mmWave 5G iPhones could potentially see a delay due to changes to the antenna package made in early April and delays in qualification process services.

Apple is expected to launch four ‌iPhone 12‌ models this year: One new 5.4-inch device, two 6.1-inch models, and one 6.7-inch handset. Kuo still expects the 6.1 and 5.4-inch iPhones to go into mass production in September, while mass production on the larger 6.7-inch ‌iPhone‌ will be delayed until October because of its more complicated design.
Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple’s Plan to Introduce New AirPods Later This Year Reportedly Delayed

Apple's plan to release an updated version of AirPods later this year has been delayed due to the global health crisis, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.


This lines up with a recent report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that mass production of third-generation AirPods will begin in the first half of 2021, followed by mass production of second-generation AirPods Pro between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Kuo also expects Apple's rumored high-end over-ear headphones to enter mass production at some point in mid-2020.

Kuo did acknowledge rumors of new AirPods coming in the second half of 2020, but he said they are "more likely to be the new Beats model." Last month, leaker Jon Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called "AirPods X" around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for sports and running.

Apple's second-generation AirPods launched in March 2019, while the AirPods Pro were released at the end of October.
Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Neutral)

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iPad Stocks in China Dwindle as Kids Switch to E-Learning Amid Coronavirus-Related School Closures

iPad stocks are reportedly running low in China because parents are buying them to help with e-learning at home in response to school closures relating to the coronavirus outbreak.


Nikkei Asian Review today reports that labor shortages have also seen suppliers struggle to meet production demands, amid government-imposed restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
"Later the need surged even higher when China opened schools but asked students to take the courses online," one person familiar with the situation said. "The shortage of the ‌iPad‌ range is up to four weeks of waiting, especially for the cheaper models. The supply could not meet the pace of the demand at all."
Today, Apple's regional online store for China shows a three to four week delivery time for orders of the low-cost 10.2-inch ‌iPad‌, while anyone ordering a 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have a wait of up to two weeks.

Demand is said to have been rising since January when Beijing imposed quarantine measures. One source told Nikkei that Apple recently ordered a 20 percent increase in production of iPads for the first half of this year, compared with the production forecast it gave suppliers in January, prior to the outbreak.

In Wuhan, where the outbreak began, schools are closed, and children have been using an Alibaba-owned corporate app called DingTalk to attend classes remotely. At least 50 million students are reportedly now taking classes online using the app, which would go a long way to explaining the strong demand for iPads.

Typically this would be positive news for Apple, but with suppliers severely affected by the spread of the coronavirus, the company has been unable to keep ‌iPad‌ stocks plentiful. Conversely, Apple has been unable to match 2019's iPhone sales figures across China, with fewer than 500,000 iPhones sold last month amid the ongoing curbs on travel and transport, according to government data.

Apple told investors in February that it wouldn't meet its revenue guidance for the quarter because of the impact from the epidemic.

The company closed all 42 of its retail stores in China at the beginning of February as the outbreak worsened, but most of the stores have re-opened, although many are operating with shortened hours. New infections and deaths reported in China have steadily declined in recent weeks, suggesting the enforced movement restrictions are having an impact on the spread of the disease.
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Coronavirus Outbreak to Continue Impacting Apple’s iPhone Production Into April

Ongoing delays from the coronavirus outbreak in China will likely cause Apple to miss its schedule for mass producing the low-cost iPhone, and inventories of existing models could remain low until April or longer, according to new information shared today by Japanese site Nikkei.

‌iPhone‌ suppliers, on average, are said to be operating at 30 to 50 percent capacity at the current time, and to ramp up to full production, hurdles that include labor shortages and transportation logistics need to be overcome.


Apple was planning to begin mass production on the upcoming low-cost ‌iPhone‌ in February, but sources that spoke to Nikkei said that meeting that target is "very challenging" and production could be delayed until March.

Current rumors have suggested Apple plans to unveil the new ‌iPhone‌ at an event that's set to take place in March, perhaps on March 31, with Apple then releasing the device on April 3. Though there are issues with production, multiple sources have said the new ‌iPhone‌ is still going to launch on time.
"The suppliers are doing their best to produce and ship the [cheaper] ‌iPhone‌ within four weeks. ...The delay can't be too long, otherwise it will affect the sales strategy of Apple's new products in the second half of this year," one of the people, who has direct knowledge of the matter, told Nikkei.
Apple was hoping to have its suppliers produce 80 million ‌iPhone‌ units in the first half of 2020, including 15 million low-cost iPhones, but the company's production plan is now uncertain. Apple yesterday said that it will not meet its revenue goals for the March quarter due to constrained ‌iPhone‌ supplies and low customer demand for Apple products in China amid the outbreak.

Factories in China are counting on having more employees back at work as soon as next Monday, when a quarantine period for those who returned from outside provinces will end. Travel logistics are said to be a "major headache" at the current time, as suppliers need to change truck drivers when crossing provincial borders due to quarantine requirements.

The coronavirus has infected more than 73,000 people, and there have been 1,870 deaths, primarily in China.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE 2

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AirPods Pro Demand is So Strong That Apple is Reportedly Doubling Production

Following a recent Bloomberg report claiming that the new AirPods Pro are experiencing "much higher" than expected demand, the Nikkei Asian Review reports that Apple has asked its supplier Luxshare Precision to double production of the high-end earphones to two million units per month.


The report adds that Apple has also asked Luxshare and fellow Chinese manufacturer Goertek to boost production of the regular AirPods at their Vietnam-based factories, although it is unclear by how much.

AirPods Pro are currently estimated for delivery around December 31 through Apple's online store in the United States, so orders placed today are not guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas. However, authorized resellers such as Amazon, Best Buy, AT&T, and T-Mobile still quote delivery within the first week of December.

Amazon is even offering a slight discount on the AirPods Pro for Black Friday, pricing them at $234.98, a savings of nearly $15.

AirPods are considered to be the world's best selling truly wireless earphones, with surging popularity since their release in late 2016. Together with the Apple Watch, the earphones have been a driving force behind growth in Apple's wearables category, which recently set new fourth quarter revenue records worldwide.

AirPods Pro feature several improvements over the regular AirPods, including active noise cancellation, improved sound quality, and water resistance.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Related Roundup: AirPods Pro
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Pro (Buy Now)

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Report: Apple to Use Qualcomm’s X55 5G Modem in All Three 2020 iPhones

Apple's 2020 iPhones will all use Qualcomm's newest and fastest 5G-capable modem chip, claims a new report out of Asia today.


Apple is expected to launch three iPhones next year in 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch sizes. According to Nikkei Asian Review, all three will carry the 5G modem chip designed by Qualcomm called the X55.
All three of the new iPhones will carry the most advanced 5G modem chip, known as X55 that is designed by U.S. mobile chip developer Qualcomm, four people familiar with the plan told Nikkei. The chip, which enables much faster downloads, faces such an increase in demand that there could be supply constraints, one person added.
The X55 chip offers 7Gb/s peak download speeds and 3Gb/s upload speeds, though these numbers are theoretical maximums and actual speeds will depend on carrier network. The chip is Qualcomm's first 5G chip that supports all major frequency bands, operation modes, and network deployments.

The X55 is also more power efficient than Qualcomm's X50 chip, which means it will draw less energy and will have less of an impact on battery life when connected to a 5G network.

Apple was originally planning to use Intel chips in its 2020 5G iPhones, but Intel is out of the smartphone chip business and Apple has no choice but to use Qualcomm's modem chips.

Apple aims to ship 80 million 5G-capable iPhones next year, claims the report. Apple typically ships between 75 and 80 million new iPhones each year, and it plans to close in on similar targets in 2020 and exploit 5G as a key sales driver, according to Nikkei.
"It will be the first time Apple introduces 5G iPhones ... There will be three of them and the company has set an aggressive sales target," one of the people familiar with the company's thinking said.
In July, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will offer 5G in all three of its new flagship iPhone models to better compete with lower-cost Android smartphones that will support 5G.

Apple's embrace of 5G is expected to push carriers such as AT&T and Verizon to accelerate their investment in the rollout of 5G infrastructure and catch up with China's rapidly accelerating 5G capabilities.

By 2025, London-based GSMA estimates that China will have 600 million 5G subscribers, or about 40 percent of the global total, notes Nikkei, citing a Financial Times report.

Today's report also corroborates previous rumors that Apple will switch to a 5-nanometer fabrication process for its A14 processor next year. Apple has used a 7nm process since the A12 Bionic chip debuted in 2018, and TSMC has been Apple's exclusive supplier.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple Reportedly Increasing iPhone 11 Lineup Production by Up to 10% Due to Strong Demand

Apple has asked suppliers to increase production of its new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro lineup by up to 10 percent, according to Nikkei Asian Review. The bump in production would add up to 8 million units to the current production plans as Apple seeks to meet stronger-than-expected demand.

"This autumn is so far much busier than we expected," one source with direct knowledge of the situation said. "Previously, Apple was quite conservative about placing orders," which were less than for last year's new iPhone. "After the increase, prepared production volume for the iPhone 11 series will be higher compared to last year," the source said.
The report claims the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are seeing the strongest demand, while Apple is actually revising orders for the iPhone 11 Pro Max down slightly as it seeks to balance production with demand.

Nearly every year, stories circulate about Apple cutting production in the months following the launches of new iPhones, but it's frequently unclear whether production cuts are due to weaker-than-expected demand or simply anticipated scaling back following the initial rush of orders. Regardless, an increase in production this year appears to be a good sign for Apple.

With the launch of three new iPhone models with improved cameras, Apple's iPhone lineup may be appealing to a broad array of customers ready to upgrade from older models, particularly with the iPhone 11 starting at $699, which is $50 less than its iPhone XR predecessor.

Those looking for an even more budget-friendly new iPhone may have some welcome news early next year, with multiple reliable sources indicating that Apple is planning to launch a new "iPhone SE 2" that would actually look very similar to the iPhone 8 but with upgraded internals such as Apple's latest A13 chip and 3 GB of RAM.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro

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Apple’s First New Low-Cost iPhone Since the iPhone SE Expected to Launch Early Next Year

Apple plans to launch a new-generation "iPhone SE" in the form of a low-cost 4.7-inch iPhone this coming spring, sources in Asia have claimed.


Nikkei reports that the new model will be Apple's first low-cost smartphone since the 2016 launch of the popular iPhone SE, which started at $399, and while the name and price of the new model hasn't been decided, "it is viewed as the latest generation of the iPhone SE," according to the paper's sources.
The size of the new model will be similar to the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 that was introduced in 2017, three sources said. The model will share most of the same components with the flagship iPhones this year, and it will feature the lower-cost liquid crystal display that will help Apple achieve the lower starting price-tag, although the final pricing for the model is not yet settled, the people said.
Rumors of a new low-cost 4.7-inch iPhone modeled on the iPhone 8 first appeared in April via Economic Daily News. EDN's sources also claimed the device coming in early 2020 will include an LCD display. In addition, they also claimed it will feature a new PCB design to house Apple's A13 processor, a single-lens rear camera, and 128GB of base storage.

It's not clear if the rumored 4.7-inch iPhone would inherit the notched design and Face ID features of Apple's flagship smartphones, but Nikkei's references to 2017's iPhone 8 suggest it could retain the bordered screen and Touch ID-equipped Home button of that device to keep costs down.

Apple's iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR devices dominate its marketing, but the company continues to offer the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (starting at $599) as lower cost options alongside the even cheaper iPhone 7 series (starting at $449).

Apple could end sales of the iPhone 7 when its new flagship models launch later this month, which would leave a space in its line-up for a new device that could boost its share of the mid-tier smartphone market. But apart from being new and coming in at a lower price, we'll have to wait and see if comparisons can be legitimately drawn with the much-loved 4-inch iPhone SE of yesteryear.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8

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Apple Tells Suppliers to Cut iPhone XR and XS Production by 10% for Next Three Months

Apple is telling its suppliers to cut production on new iPhones by 10 percent over the course of the next three months, reports Nikkei.

Apple made the request of its suppliers late last month, asking them to produce fewer iPhones for the January-March quarter.


This is the second time that Apple has recently cut down on iPhone production, and Nikkei says Apple made the decision prior to issuing its guidance downgrade last week.

The production revision applies to all of Apple's new iPhone models, including the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. "The level of revision is different for each supplier and depends on the product mix they supply," an unnamed source told Nikkei.

A second source said that overall production volume of both new and old iPhones will be reduced by approximately 40 to 43 million units for the January-March quarter, down from an earlier projection of 47 to 48 million units.

Due to weak iPhone sales in China, the effects of the U.S.-China trade war, cheap battery replacements, and other factors, Apple cut its Q1 2019 revenue guidance to $84 billion, down from the $89 to $93 billion guidance issued in November, and with the production cuts, those issues may continue further into the year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook just today said, however, that reports suggesting the iPhone XR is a flop or selling poorly are "bologna," and that the device has been the best selling iPhone every day since it launched.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR

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Nikkei: Apple Told Suppliers to Cancel Plans for Additional iPhone XR Production Lines

Apple has told iPhone assemblers to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the iPhone XR, claimed a new report on Monday.

According to sources cited by the Nikkei Asian Review, Apple has informed Taiwanese smartphone manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron of the cancelation, which the report said signaled "disappointing demand" for Apple's lower cost flagship model, which launched late last month.

"For the Foxconn side, it first prepared nearly 60 assembly lines for Apple's XR model, but recently uses only around 45 production lines as its top customer said it does not need to manufacture that many by now," a source familiar with the situation said.

That means Foxconn, the Taiwanese company traded as Hon Hai Precision Industry, would produce around 100,000 fewer units daily to reflect the new demand outlook -- down 20% to 25% from the original optimistic outlook, this person said.
As for Pegatron, the iPhone assembler is said to be "suspending plans to ramp up production and awaiting further instructions from Apple," according to Nikkei's supply chain sources.

Apple has reportedly also asked smaller iPhone assembler Wistron to stand by for rush orders, but Nikkei's sources said the company will receive no orders for the iPhone XR this holiday season.

Nikkei's reporting on iPhone supplies has been off the mark in recent years, with claims of Apple slashing iPhone production orders on weak demand being at odds with later sales figures.

The latest report also clashes with recent remarks made by noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that iPhone XR pre-order demand in the first three days of the device's availability was "better than that" of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus during the same period last year.

Kuo said that although pre-order demand immediately after launch has been lower for the iPhone XR versus the flagship iPhone XS models, overall iPhone XR shipment momentum is "more stable" because it will drive more customers to upgrade than the iPhone 8 series over time.

On the flip side, some analysts expressed concerns that the iPhone XR's strong availability following launch implied weak sales of the $749 handset.

In addition, Apple's $89 to $93 billion revenue forecast for the first fiscal quarter of 2019 was cautious in its earnings call, but Apple blamed this on foreign exchange costs, issues with supply/demand balance, and weakness in emerging markets.

Apple CFO Maestri also explained that Apple had "some uncertainty" around supply/demand balance for the "unprecedented number" of new products the company had launched over the last six weeks.

The launch timing of the new iPhones was also said to be a factor, with the iPhone XR coming later than the XS and the XS Max. This had an effect on Apple's Q4 revenue and is also expected to impact Q1.

Related Roundup: iPhone XR
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)

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