Apple CEO Tim Cook pose next to an image of the new iPhone 11.
Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
Apple is pressuring suppliers to cut production delays for its next-generation iPhone range after coronavirus lockdowns in China and the U.S. put the technology giant behind schedule, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing unnamed sources.
The iPhone maker is slated to release four models in its 5G lineup with three different screen sizes and is facing delays of between four weeks and two months for mass production of those, the Nikkei said.
Apple was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
Apple assembles most of its iPhones in China but the design team and other functions are at its Cupertino, California headquarters. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in China earlier this year, the factories which assemble Apple’s iPhones were shut. They have since reopened.
But in March, California enacted a “shelter-in-place” order which affected Apple’s staff. Some of Apple’s employees returned to the company’s head office in June to try to get the iPhone released on time, the news publication reported.
Sources told the Nikkei Asian Review that Apple was now less likely to postpone the launch of the 5G iPhones until 2021. The publication reported that had been the worst-case scenario it was facing three months ago.
Apple typically announces its new iPhones in September. The Nikkei said the reported delays on where the company would normally be in development for that timeline.
One source told Nikkei that some final iPhone assembly could be delayed until early October and that further delays are possible.
Apple’s rivals including Samsung and Huawei already have 5G-capable phones on the market. While the next-generation networks are not that widespread, they are developing in some countries like China and South Korea very quickly. Some analysts see the release of a 5G iPhone as a potential catalyst for Apple’s stock to rise higher.
Apple has also told its suppliers to build more than 45 million units of older iPhone models — the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 range and iPhone SE — to keep its sales momentum up, the Nikkei reported.
Read the full Nikkei Asian Review report here.