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.
Photo: svetapple.sk

iPhone fans dying for a 5G upgrade might be kept waiting a little bit longer thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple is reportedly having internal discussions debating whether to delay the launch of the 5G iPhone by months. The iPhone 12 was expected to be released this fall, but Asian news site Nikkei says supply chain problems might force the company to push the date back. And there’s something else worrying Apple execs, too.

“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 harbors big ambitions for its first 5G iPhone. The company reportedly instructed suppliers to plan to make 100 million units for 2020. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic sent the global economy into disarray, fans might not want to shell out money just for super-fast data speeds. Plus, 5G networks currently operate only in limited areas of major cities.

Will coronavirus delay 5G iPhone?

Nikkei’s sources claim Apple plans to wait until May to make a final decision on whether to delay the iPhone 12 launch. Cupertino continues to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and Europe, its two largest smartphone markets.

Recent travel restrictions 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. Apple postponed that, though, due to employees working from home under California’s 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. Such an unprecedented delay would signal that Apple believes the economy won’t recover as quickly as everyone hopes.