A leading Apple analyst is confident Apple will deliver its first iPhone with 5G this fall — despite a Wednesday report that suggested this year’s handsets could be delayed due to COVID-19.
“We have a different view,” wrote Gene Munster of Loup Ventures on Thursday. Muster has outlined several reasons why an iPhone refresh is still likely to come in 2020.
“In the midst of 5G delay rumors, it’s important to keep in mind that Apple plans its business in terms of decades, not years,” Munster explained. This allows Apple to “survive the unexpected.”
Cupertino’s planning and resources mean it can withstand everything from a financial crises to weak initial demand for its latest products — and even a global pandemic. Here’s how.
2020 iPhone refresh still on track?
First, “it’s a misunderstanding that an iPhone is designed in a year,” Munster wrote. Loup estimates that it typically takes three to four years to take a new Apple handset from concept to launch.
So, it’s not like Apple first started planning for a 2020 iPhone refresh just after the 2019 lineup made its public debut. Major decisions, and conversations with suppliers, would have been made a long time ago.
“By the end of March in a given year, the vast majority of work on an iPhone design and planning with the supply chain is already done,” Munster continued. Apple’s plans are mostly set in stone at this point.
With all of that in mind, it’s unlikely COVID-19, which surfaced just three months ago and didn’t start making a major impact until later, will have scuppered Apple’s plans for 2020 too much.
But there’s more
Furthermore, we know from other reports — and as Munster points out — Apple’s supply chain partners like TSMC, which manufactures its custom chips, have already begun ramping up production.
Many of these partners, including Foxconn, are now back in action — and operating at full capacity — following the coronavirus outbreak. The labor shortages that might have caused delays are no more.
“The supply chain should be positioned to supply several million iPhones by the end of September, in line with supply for previous launches,” Munster adds.
Of course, COVID-19 might have some impact on the 2020 iPhone lineup. Loup expects demand to be “muted” initially as consumers recover from the impact of lockdowns and social distancing, which have caused millions around the world to lose their jobs.
5G will be huge for Apple
Loup remains optimistic, however, that 5G will be huge for Apple. The technology is expected to “exceed its hype, and Apple is one of the best ways to invest in the transformation driven by 5G.”
So, there you have it. While COVID-19 may have impacted us all, including Apple, in some way, it shouldn’t stop you from buying a 5G iPhone this fall.