China lockdowns raise question of whether iPhone 14 could launch late

iPhone 13 laid face down

At least one model set to feature in Apple’s upcoming iPhone 14 range has been reported to be weeks behind schedule in its development, due to the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

China continues to practice a stringent ‘zero-COVID’ policy, which led to lockdown restrictions being put in place in and around Shanghai from late March. And while restrictions have eased since then, it seems that the knock-on effects to the supply chain are still being felt – including as far as production of Apple’s new flagship smartphone is concerned.

Nikkei Asia referenced “multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter” in its article stating that Apple had asked suppliers to accelerate product development efforts to compensate for the time lost. The report suggested that in the worst-case scenario, the manufacturing schedule and initial production volume of the new devices could be adversely affected.

In the words of an executive with an Apple supplier who described the pace of Shanghai’s reopening as “rather slow”: “It is challenging to make up for the lost time… Apple and its suppliers are working around the clock to speed up development.”

However, another unnamed source suggested that there was no indication yet of the iPhone 14 definitely being delayed from the normal September launch window for new iPhones.

They said: “If the development process can be sped up and proceed to the next level around the end of June or beginning of July, then it should still be possible to meet the mass production deadline of early September. But it really depends on whether the process can accelerate soon.”

If a delay was to occur to the iPhone 14’s launch – and it seems too soon to make that judgement – it would hardly be the first recent iPhone to encounter such issues. COVID-19-related delays meant that the iPhone 12 ended up being unveiled in October 2020 rather than September of that year.

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