Apple may delay the iPhone 12, its first 5G smartphone, report says

The iPhone 12 is expected to feature an all-new design and  5G support, but it looks like Apple is considering delaying the launch of the new device, possibly till 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, officially known as COVID-19. The news comes from Nikkei Asian review, which cites three sources “familiar with the matter.”

If Apple were to delay the iPhone 12, it would be pretty big news. Flagship iPhones have launched in September every year since 2011 and customers now expect a new iPhone at that time of year. The coronavirus has put a strain on supply chains, and even if the iPhone 12 is announced in September, there could be a delay in the phone’s release, or at least limited supply.

“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone,” said a source for Nikkei Asian Review. “They need the first 5G iPhone to be a hit.”

There could be other reasons for a delay. According to the report, Apple was supposed to be working with suppliers on prototyping components for the new iPhone, but had to delay that process due to travel restrictions.

Apple is already a few years behind some of its biggest rivals in launching a 5G phone. Samsung, Huawei, LG, and others all released 5G phones last year, and Apple likely wants to incorporate the new tech as soon as possible. According to the report, Apple will make a final decision as to when it will release the new iPhone around May, with its decision likely to hinge on the coronavirus pandemic and global economy. In a worst-case scenario, Nikkei’s sources say the device could be delayed to 2021, which would seriously disrupt Apple’s product road map.

Apple was rumored to be considering hosting a hardware event in March 2020, but the company instead chose to reveal new products, like the new iPad Pro and MacBook Air, through a press release on its website. The company has also announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be online-only.