Brace yourselves for potentially significant iPhone 9/iPhone SE2 delays


Apple's next big medium iPhone release has been in the limelight for several months now, and although the design, most of the specifications, and even the pricing structure of the fast-approaching iPhone SE sequel are no secret, we still find ourselves talking about this mid-range device almost every single day.

That's primarily because there's a lot of uncertainty floating around the release schedule of the handset widely expected to go official under the iPhone 9 label. While Apple reportedly kicked off the phone's trial production in late January, leaving a large enough window of time open for a commercial debut at the end of this month, said production may have been severely slowed down or even halted entirely due to public health concerns.

A number of factories in China had to temporarily close their doors to stop the coronavirus epidemic from spreading, and while the situation is slowly improving, many key components might still be in short supply, threatening to have a major impact on both the release date of the iPhone 9 and the quantities that will be initially available worldwide.

As you can imagine, no one knows for sure just how difficult it might be for Apple to hit its original production targets, but all signs seem to point in the general direction of a delay of some sort. Said signs include not one but two new Digitimes reports based on "industry sources", which largely coincide with several other recent predictions from analysts and insiders.

Is a March launch completely off the table?

In short, the answer to that question seems to be a resounding yes. At best, Apple could stick to its rumored March 31 announcement plan, then keeping potential buyers waiting a few weeks (or even more) for an actual commercial rollout. In another scenario bandied about of late, the iPhone 9 would be released shortly after its late March announcement, but only in very limited numbers before Apple can ramp up production and catch up with global demand at some point down the line.

Clearly, these are less than ideal circumstances, but for what it's worth, the "new entry-level LCD iPhone" has purportedly entered the "final stage of engineering validation", which normally suggests a release is not too far on the horizon.

Meanwhile, however, Taiwan-based manufacturers of printed circuit boards have apparently had to "defer" their shipments for the iPhone SE2 from the "first quarter to the second." That's definitely not a very encouraging sign, suggesting one of the bleakest recent analyst forecasts may come true and the handset could ultimately face delays of several months. Let's hope it doesn't get to that, although we can't say the prospect of seeing a limited batch of units hit stores in a few weeks is particularly exciting if long waiting times will follow.

Name, design, prices, and features

This is pretty unusual, but apart from a release schedule that greatly depends on the short-term evolution of the coronavirus outbreak, the other big question mark is how this handset will be called. Somewhat surprisingly, the iPhone SE2 name remains a viable candidate, although iPhone 9 is still the clear front runner. Believe it or not, Apple could even release the modernized iPhone 8 as the "iPhone", following a branding strategy currently used for the non-Pro iPad.

Of course, that's not as important as the specs, pricing, and design of the upcoming device, which are... kind of a mixed bag. 

While it's definitely hard to argue with the value for money provided by a $399 and up phone powered by a state-of-the-art Apple A13 Bionic chipset, we can see a lot of haters and even devoted "iFans" preparing to ridicule the revival of a terribly outdated design with massive screen bezels, a single rear-facing camera in tow, and a conventional Touch ID fingerprint scanner doubling as a physical home button.

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Other rumored features include 64 gigs of storage space for the entry-level $399 variant and 128 gigs of local digital hoarding room as far as a $449 model is concerned, as well as a 3GB memory count and basically the same 4.7-inch LCD panel offered by the 2017-released iPhone 8. All in all, the iPhone 9, aka iPhone SE2, aka new "iPhone" looks poised to give the upcoming Google Pixel 4a a run for its money in the budget segment... whenever the two might become available in decent numbers.

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