Apple appears to have hit a roadblock with iPhone 12 production due to corona virus travel warnings issued by the US government. The delay could push iPhone 12 development past its usual September release date.
The travel advice has fallen on the time of year that Apple engineers usually plan to head over to Asia to work on production of the next iPhone, according to a report by Reuters.
The US issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning for US citizens thinking of visiting China on February 2 and most commercial airlines have reduced or suspended flights to and from the country.
The travel restrictions were put into place to limit the spread of the coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China.
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While the bulk of manufacturing for Apple’s iPhone 12 is not scheduled to begin until summer, the start of the year is generally a time that Apple reserves to iron out assembly processes with partners such as Foxconn, according to two former Apple employees speaking to Reuters.
“They probably have one assembly line they’re trying things out on”, said one of the unnamed employees.
“Are Apple’s engineers with the Foxconn engineers? If they are, they’re probably making progress. But if they’re not, if they’re quarantined, that could be bad”.
Apple stated last month that it would be restricting employee travel to China to “business-critical” situations, but it isn’t clear whether overseeing iPhone 12 production would be considered “business-critical” to the company.
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Foxconn has reportedly faced its own issues in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The tech contractor delayed reopening iPhone factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou following the Lunar New Year, though it plans to resume half its Chinese production by the end of the month.
Apple has already warned investors that it may not be able to meet revenue targets for the first quarter of 2020 and iPhone supplies are expected to be limited globally due to the slowed down production in China.