It's the big question that has been on many minds over the last couple of weeks, and we have seen several contradicting answers. In the midst of an incredibly lethal pandemic, will Apple still be able to go ahead and build enough units to introduce the first 5G iPhone models for the traditional September launch? Some analysts say yes while others talk about a one or two-month delay. But today, the company that will assemble the majority of the new units is providing us with something of an answer.
Bloomberg reports that contract manufacturer Foxconn has admitted to losing some time due to restrictions and other issues that were caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. In February, it started shutting down assembly lines in response to the pandemic. As conditions reportedly improved in the country, Foxconn started work to reopen its assembly lines and was able to hire the usual number of seasonal workers it needs to fulfill orders from Apple. The company had to offer higher than normal signing bonuses, but it was able to complete this very important task a little ahead of schedule.
Foxconn says that the 5G iPhone models will be available during the holiday shopping season
Foxconn is looking to make up the time it lost and Alex Yang, the company's investor relations chief, told a Goldman Sachs conference call that it still can make the deadline for a fall launch of the phones. The first assembly line trials are scheduled to begin in June and production of the new 5G iPhone models is expected to begin in August. Yang did say that while operations are back to normal at Foxconn, the month lost to the coronavirus could still force Apple to delay the introduction and release of the phones. Regardless of any delay, he says that the new iPhone models should be available during the holiday shopping season.
Yang said, "We and the customer’s engineers are trying to catch up the missing gap after we lost some days due to travel ban. There’s opportunity and possibility that we might catch up. But if there’s a further delay in the next few weeks, months, then you probably have to reconsider launching time. It’s still possible."
Foxconn also has to make sure that it has the necessary number of parts and components on hand. For this, the assembler depends on Apple's supply chain made up of hundreds of companies and all of the suppliers were going through the same problems with COVID-19 that Foxconn did.
According to crystal ball wielding TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will release four different iPhone models for 2020. He expects to see a 5.4-inch Apple iPhone 12, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Plus, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max. All four will be powered by the 5nm A14 Bionic chipset, each with 15 billion transistors inside. Also, each of the four models will sport an AMOLED display with a zippy 120Hz refresh rate. UBS says to expect 6GB of memory on the new "Pro" models, a 50% hike over last year's iPhone 11 series.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus will sport Wide and Ultra-Wide cameras while the Pro units will add a Telephoto camera and a LiDar Time of Flight camera for enhanced AR capabilities. And the Snapdragon 5G modem chip that Apple wanted so badly that it reached a settlement with Qualcomm, will allow the new models to work with both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G signals.
Traditionally, Apple introduces its new flagship iPhone models in September followed up with a launch one or two weeks later. Last year, Apple unveiled the iPhone 11 series on September 10th and released them on September 20th.