Analyst explains why he sees no delay for the 5G Apple iPhone launch this fall

Analyst explains why he sees no delay for the 5G Apple iPhone launch this fall
On Wednesday, we told you that some analysts say that there is a real risk of a month long delay in the launch of the 5G 2020 iPhone models. Apple is reportedly two months behind its usual schedule and because of the coronavirus, Apple engineers who would normally fly to China and sign off on the final versions of the prototypes for the upcoming iPhone models might not be able to enter the country. That would add to the delay and Apple will not agree to vet the prototypes via a conference call.

While several analysts have discussed this scenario, at least one says that he expects the new 5G iPhone models to be launched on time this fall. Loup Ventures' Gene Munster penned a post on his company's blog that gave several reasons why he expects Apple won't have to deal with its worst-case scenario that would see the launch of the iPhone 12 series pushed back to 2021.

TSMC will soon be rolling the powerful 5nm A14 Bionic chipset off of the assembly line

Munster points out that those who believe that it only takes a year to design an iPhone are mistaken. The typical iPhone, according to Munster, takes three to four years to go from concept to launch. That was confirmed by Apple's head of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji who once said that engineers and designers can work years in advance of the launch on an iPhone. What this means is that by this month most of the design work on the upcoming iPhone 12 series and the supply chain planning has already been done.

The analyst notes that Apple's Asian based manufacturing and hardware assembly partners have started to ramp up production. This includes TSMC which will soon be rolling the new 5nm A14 Bionic chip off of the assembly line. With 15 billion transistors inside each chip (compared to the 8.5 billion packed inside the 7nm A13 Bionic), the new component will help make the 2020 iPhone models more powerful and energy-efficient than the current units. Munster sees Apple able to produce several million iPhone handsets by the time September ends which would be in line with its production for previous September launches. There is a caveat from the analyst who says that this scenario can change in a heartbeat

So that's Munster's feelings about the supply side of the equation. As far as demand for the new models is concerned, the analyst sees "muted demand" at first thanks to weak consumer demand in the fall. Apparently, Munster expects the global economy to remain sluggish in six months. But he does believe that over the next 5 years, "5G’s impact on our lives will exceed its hype." 5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity and with download data speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, new technologies and industries will eventually be created.

Crystal ball wielding TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will unveil four new handsets this fall. The 5.4-inch iPhone 12, 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Plus, 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All four models will sport AMOLED displays with a 120Hz refresh rate and support sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G signals. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus will be equipped with Wide and Telephoto cameras. The Pro models will include those two cameras and add an Ultra-wide camera and a time of flight LiDar depth sensor like the one included on the new iPad Pro models launched last week. Just the other day Kuo said that the iPhone 12 Pro Max will feature sensor-shift image stabilization. This keeps videos steady by adjusting the sensor instead of the lens.

Summing up his report, Munster says, "In the midst of 5G iPhone delay rumors, it’s important to keep in mind that Apple plans its business in terms of decades, not years – an under-appreciated long-term competitive advantage. At the core of this advantage is the company’s balance sheet, which allows it to survive the unexpected; everything from COVID-19, to a financial crisis, or weak initial demand for a new iPhone. Having the luxury to plan beyond the unexpected is one reason why we remain confident in Apple’s ability to maintain and extend its tech leadership in the years ahead."
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