The world’s biggest electronics contract manufacturer and Apple’s biggest supply chain partner has reassured investors that it can ready the 5G-capable iPhone 12 in time for a fall debut.
Foxconn investor relations chief Alex Yang told investors Wednesday, reported by Bloomberg, that the company has lost time due to travel restrictions and other delays related to COVID-19. However, with several months left until the first trial assembly lines in June, it still has time to get the handsets into production.
As with many manufacturers in the supply chain, Foxconn has been hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19. Early in the year, it was forced to shutter two of its main iPhone-producing factories in China. When the most critical one reopened, it did so with fewer than 10% of its usual workforce. Foxconn subsequently acknowledged that the impact of COVID-19 will likely affect its revenue throughout the year.
Since then, however, it has been taking proactive steps to ensure that production is not affected. It established a production line making surgical masks, and installed infrared scanners and a smartphone app which sends alerts to employees if they are too close to infection hotspots.
It also hired 83-year-old scientist Zhong Nanshan, the man credited for finding the right way to treat SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus, which spread between late 2002 and mid-2003. Nanghan serves as Foxconn’s official consultant for its coronavirus prevention and rehabilitation efforts.
Foxconn is building the iPhone 12
Foxconn’s previous guidance suggested that it would be back up and running at its normal levels by late March. Last week, the manufacturer said that it had hired enough workers at its major Chinese plants to meet seasonal demand for iPhone manufacturing.
Foxconn is just the latest firm to hit out at rumors that this year’s iPhone 12 will be delayed. Earlier today, we reported that A-series chipmaker TSMC is ready to begin volume manufacturing of Apple’s next-gen A-series chips.
Nonetheless, there is still a degree of uncertainty in all this. Smaller, but still crucial component makers will need to be back to full capacity if they are to deliver the iPhone parts, which will then be assembled by the likes of Foxconn. China’s recent decision to close movie theaters again also suggests that the country’s confidence about the local decline of COVID-19 may be premature.