If you are expecting Apple to send you a replacement for a severely damaged iPhone, you might have to be patient. According to Bloomberg, the company recently informed its technical support staff working in Apple Stores that these replacement units are going to be in very short supply over the next two to four weeks. In an internal menu to Apple Geniuses who handle iPhone repairs and replacements at Apple Stores, the company said that customers should be informed that they can have their replacement unit mailed to them. Apple also said that customers should be advised that they can receive a loaner.
Apple Stores are short of parts used to repair Apple products
Customers coming into an Apple Store with an iPhone that is not damaged enough to warrant a replacement unit often seek to have a part or two replaced. For example, a cracked screen or a scratched camera lens can be replaced. The store's Genius Bar is usually stocked with these replacement parts that can be swapped out on the spot. However, anonymous Apple Store employees are quietly telling the media that when it comes to replacement parts, the cupboards are bare. This is due to the effect that the coronavirus has had on Apple's supply chain. Many factories in China closed in order to protect the safety of employees, and while some are just ramping up their assembly lines now, it will take some time for them to return to normal.
Besides the iPhone 11, which is getting hard to find globally, there are also shortages of both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets. At the end of this month, Apple is expected to introduce new versions of these two slates that will sport the same square camera module and cameras found on the iPhone 11 Pro handsets. They will also sport a Time of Flight (ToF) depth sensor. So it is possible that some of the shortages related to the 2018 iPad Pro models are related to normal inventory adjustment. Apple is also expected to introduce its new entry-level handset, the iPhone 9, on March 31st. With reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stating that he doesn't see iPhone production picking up "until the second quarter of 2020," Kuo forecasts that there will be a shortage of iPhone 9 units available immediately after the model is launched. The 64GB variant is expected to be priced at $399.
Meanwhile, at an investor presentation held Tuesday, Apple's top manufacturing partner Foxconn said that it hopes to be at full seasonal capacity by the end of this month. During the presentation, the contract manufacturer said that it was already at 50% of "seasonal required capacity" after starting up production only two weeks ago. For a few weeks, Foxconn had to close certain facilities due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus also known as the coronavirus.
During the presentation, Foxconn said, "There are still plenty of uncertainties which we can not [sic] quantify the potential impact on the full year. However, AI, semiconductor and 5G are still critical catalysts for the long-term. Therefore, we believe some demands will be pushed out to later of this year." Apple relies on the company to assemble the majority of the iPhone units that are sold around the world. So obviously, the sooner that Foxconn ramps up production to full speed, the faster Apple is able to provide its customers with replacement models. The big question is whether the spread of the coronavirus is really slowing down in China even as it has started to impact some major U.S. cities.
Apple has asked its employees not to travel to countries like China, South Korea, and Italy, and has asked that important meetings be conducted virtually. The company is also asking workers who are ill to take sick leave.