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iPhone 12 launch may get delayed due to Coronavirus as Apple engineers unable to travel to China

This is the time of the year when Apple engineers usual fly to and from China, fine-tuning features, design, and production of the next iPhone. But this year due to Coronavirus the plans have been hit and iPhone 12 may get delayed.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | February 26, 2020 | Updated 18:32 IST
(Source: Reuters)


  • Apple engineers and executives have apparently delayed their travel plans for China due to Corona virus.
  • In China, the production of iPhone 12 is slightly behind schedule as workers have still not returned to the iPhone factories.
  • This is despite Foxconn offering workers freebies like bonuses, free meals, shuttles and accommodation.

When will the iPhone 12 launch? If everything is on schedule the launch of the iPhone 12, along with the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, is expected to be in late August or early September. These are the months when the new iPhone usually arrives. But this year there could be delays, either in the launch of the iPhone 12 series, or in the availability of the iPhone 12 phones. This is because of Coronavirus that has not only affected the work at iPhone factories run by Foxconn but also the travel plans of Apple engineers and executives.

The early months of the year are scheduled for assembly processes of the iPhone with partners like Foxconn, sources told Reuters. Actual manufacturing of the phone then starts in summer. But apparently due to Coronovirus endemic in China, and travel restrictions placed due to it, the plans are running late.

A former Apple employee told Reuters that Apple probably has one assembly line on which they are trying things out. Are Apple's engineers with Foxconn engineers? If they are, they're probably making progress. But if they're not, if they're quarantined, that could be bad, the employee said.

The delay is going to be because of two primary reasons. One, the iPhone factories opened late in China this year after the annual holidays due to Coronavirus and now when they are open, not many employees have joined work. Two, ahead of the full production, Apple employees often make hundreds of to and fro flights between their US office and Chinese factories to fine-tune everything related to the next iPhone, and these travel plans have been mostly cancelled.

Reuters reports that there was a delay in reopening key iPhone factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou post the Lunar new year holidays. Now, only by the end of this month will the production at these factories start.

Meanwhile, United Airlines tells Reuters, that Apple has indeed cancelled a number of bookings it had made for its employees supposed to travel to China in these months. All bookings before late April have been cancelled. It is important to note that flights from the US to China, or from China to the US, are on hold for now.

Ideally, the timeline for a new iPhone like the iPhone 12 looks like this: Post the lunar holidays in China -- in late January and early February -- the transition starts from prototypes to assembly of millions of units. When the market ready iPhones roll-out of assembly lines, Foxconn employees work on them while Apple engineers troubleshoot. This is called engineering validation.

In March and April, Apple engineers work with their Foxconn counterparts to set up new assembly lines and to do trial runs. The final adjustments are made in April and May. The main aim is to have production lines up and running in June. This is needed so that others can be added progressively for output.

All of this has been seemingly delayed. And while it is possible that once the situation is normal -- the number of Coronavirus cases is coming down sharply in China -- Foxconn and Apple will pick up the pace and minimise the delay. But for now it does seem that the delay so far may affect the launch date or availability of the iPhone 12.

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