A worldwide pandemic killing hundreds of people every day has many people worried. Worried whether contract manufacturer Foxconn has enough workers to build the number of handsets Apple requires to launch its first 5G iPhone models in time. AppleInsider reports that on Sunday night, Foxconn released a statement stating that it had met its recruitment goals ahead of schedule and said that its assembly lines will soon be running at 100% of capacity. Company Chairman Young Liu said earlier this month that its factories were running at only 50% of capacity.
The coronavirus outbreak led the company to report in February its largest monthly drop in revenue over the last seven years. It has tested 55,000 workers for COVID-19 and had 40,000 undergo an additional chest X-ray.
Foxconn to start manufacturing Apple iPhone 12 models in July
The manufacturer will start producing the 5G iPhone 12 models in July. We expect Apple to release as many as four new models including the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Plus, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All four models will be equipped with an OLED Panel and the 5nm A14 Bionic chipset with a whopping 15 billion transistors. The iPhone 12 models are expected to have Wide and Ultra-wide cameras while the Pro variants will have Wide, Ultra-wide and Telephoto cameras along with the LiDar Time of Flight depth sensor seen on the just-released iPad Pro tablets. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will reportedly sport sensor-shift image stabilization technology that adjusts the sensor instead of the camera to keep videos from jerking all over the place.
Even if Foxconn is able to produce as many iPhone 12 units as originally planned for, getting consumers to buy them might be the hard part. With the global economy possibly in a recession and heading to a depression, many households won't have the wherewithal to spend a lot of money on a new phone. The largest smartphone market in the world is China, and analysts are expecting a first-quarter drop of 30% to 50% in the number of handsets sold during the period on a year-over-year basis. And with talk of a 20% unemployment rate in the U.S., smartphone manufacturers are on edge. This might bode well for the Apple iPhone 9, the tech giant's yet to be announced new entry-level phone.
The iPhone 9, originally thought to be the subject of a March 31st event (which most likely will not take place) will use the hardware employed on the iPhone 8 (and possibly the iPhone 8 Plus) but replaces the A11 Bionic SoC with the same A13 Bionic found inside the 2019 iPhone models. The amount of memory will be expanded by 50% to 3GB from 2GB and pricing will start at $399.99 for the 64GB model.
Last week, Apple introduced two new iPad Pro tablets powered by a new chipset (the A12Z Bionic) and a new camera module (in the style of the iPhone 11 Pro models) equipped with Wide and Ultra-wide cameras and the aforementioned LiDar ToF depth sensor. When new cases of coronavirus were announced in China for much of last month, tablet sales in the country took off as workers were told to do their jobs from home and students were taught their lessons online. We could see the same thing take place in the U.S. as schools and offices are shutting down.
As we've pointed out, as Foxconn rebuilds its seasonal work roster Apple has reopened all 42 Apple Stores in China. But while things are improving in the country, elsewhere the spread of COVID-19 is getting worse. Outside of China, all other Apple Stores around the world have closed until further notice. Best Buy is closing its stores except for curbside pickup of orders, and Verizon has closed most of its stores in the states. T-Mobile shuttered all of its locations found inside a shopping mall.
As the news from Foxconn and the reopening of the Chinese Apple Stores show, things will return to normal eventually. However, those in countries where the coronavirus has yet to peak still have weeks or even months of self-quaratine in front of them.