iPhone 12 camera problem might have an upside for Apple

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iPhone-12-concept-2
Ming-Chi Kuo says there's a problem with iPhone 12 camera lens.
Concept: PhoneArena

Apple reportedly encountered a problem with some of the camera lenses it plans to use for the iPhone 12. Specifically, some of the coatings for the wide-angle lens cracked during a high-pressure, high-humidity stress test, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

While that might not sound great, there’s actually no reason to panic. And the supply-chain problem might even wind up saving Apple a few bucks.

Kuo’s report suggests that the lenses that failed the test were designed for the regular (non-Pro) iPhone 12 models. They were made by manufacturer Yujingguang. Lenses made by Largan, another supplier awarded orders, passed the test.

Fortunately, Kuo says Largan can pick up the slack and make up for any shortfall as a result of Yujingguang’s problem. That means that there will be no further delay for the new handsets, which Apple already said will ship a few weeks later than normal this year.

How a supply-chain problem could help Apple

So how could this possibly be good news for Apple? Simple. Kuo says that, in order to keep Apple as a customer, Yujingguang might need to lower its prices once the problem gets fixed. Instead of charging Apple $2 to $2.20 per lens, it could reduce its price to as little as $1.50.

Apple’s not exactly strapped for cash these days. But the company has a history of taking any opportunity it can to save a few bucks. That could be anything from negotiating its own deals for screws and other tiny components suppliers use to asking for rent relief on its Apple Stores during the COVID-19 pandemic (despite a record quarter).

If Apple can solve the lens problem and get cheaper components in the future, that could ease the pain of this temporary headache. And, heck, knowing that your rival is producing a component for 50 cents less than you are could well prompt other suppliers to reexamine their own pricing as well.

Clarifying iPhone 12 launch details

9to5Mac, which reported Kuo’s note, points out another pertinent piece of information as well. A recent report noted that Apple could stagger the releases of the iPhone 12 this year. That wouldn’t be unusual. (Apple did something similar for two out of the last three years.). However, the report suggested that Apple could release one 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and one iPhone 12 Pro together, followed by a 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro together at a later date.

That would prove confusing, compared to releasing the two regular iPhone 12 handsets together and then the two iPhone 12 Pro handsets. Kuo’s report suggests that this is what Apple might wind up doing. Kuo notes that production on the regular 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 are proceeding together. That suggests that the lower-end models might go on sale initially, followed by the Pro models.