Apple will start production of the first batch of 5G iPhone 12 in mid-September, and Airtag is already in production

Yasmin Oliveira

Yasmin Oliveira

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September 8th 2020

According to Nikkei News,Apple has overcome travel restrictions and other new coronavirus interference, and will begin preliminary production of 5G iPhones in mid-September, reducing the production delay to only a few weeks instead of a few months.

According to reports, production will start on a limited scale, and mass production is expected to begin gradually between the end of September and the beginning of October . People familiar with the matter said that this timetable is still behind Apple’s usual timetable in the past few years, that is, mass production of the product series released in September began in August, but compared with the situation a few months ago, there is already Great improvement.

However, considering the lost time, Apple may not meet this year's production target . People familiar with the matter said that Apple has ordered up to 80 million 5G iPhone components, but it is reported that the actual production volume this year may eventually be between 73 million and 74 million, and the rest will be postponed to early 2021.

At the same time, Apple has also significantly increased the manufacturing orders for the upcoming iPad to meet the needs of remote office and distance learning. According to sources, this indicates that the company is optimistic about the demand outlook for the rest of the year.

The production of 5G mobile phones will start with at least one model, with the lowest-priced version using a 6.1-inch OLED screen and two rear cameras. The source added that this model accounts for about 40% of Apple's 5G mobile phone production orders . The most expensive model will be the 6.7-inch, three-camera 5G iPhone.

Apple has recently succeeded in speeding up the production of the new iPad without much interference from COVID-19. According to sources production orders for new iPads from September to December have reached 27 million units, which is almost equivalent to all iPad models produced in the second half of last year-including old and new models. According to Nikkei’s earlier report, Apple has increased its iPad orders for the first half of 2020 to meet demand stimulated by the coronavirus pandemic.

A person familiar with the matter said that Apple is also preparing a new accessory called Airtag that allows users to track non-Apple devices, adding that Airtag is already in production.

Apple announced that the first batch of MacBooks that use Apple's self-designed central processing units instead of Intel CPUs are also planned to be released in the next few months. Bloomberg has reported that updated versions of Apple Watch and HomePod will be on sale this year.

However, many people familiar with the matter said that Apple currently has no plans to launch a new generation of economical iPhone SE next spring. Some market observers had predicted that the company would revamp the model every year to revive sales. The iPhone SE, released in April of this year, starts at $399. As the company prepares for the first 5G iPhone product line, it has helped increase Apple's total shipments and maintain sales momentum. According to IDC data, in the April-June quarter, Apple's iPhone shipments increased by 11.2% year-on-year, becoming the only smartphone manufacturer to increase unit sales during the global epidemic.

In order to reduce the production delays of the highly anticipated 5G smartphones, Apple has worked hard. In the past few years, the company sent employees to the production base to solve any engineering problems before mass production. However, travel restrictions related to the coronavirus forced Apple to complete most of the work remotely and required all suppliers to deliver final samples to the United States. A source said that for the sake of confidentiality, all projects, even small ones, are packed into huge boxes, transported to Hong Kong by special-purpose trucks, and then loaded on a plane to California, so that the chief designer there can sign on the sample.

"This year the number of secret sample shipments has increased a lot, but Apple is willing to spend the same amount of money to protect their highly confidential unfinished products." The person said.

"We have successfully reduced the delay time greatly, and we will not stop there." Another supply chain executive said, "The final assembly of some models will still be carried out in early October, but we are trying to keep production as early as possible. Advance."

For Apple, the engineering verification process for the new iPhone this year is particularly challenging, because the complicated procedures and major specification upgrades from 4G to 5G connections involve a large number of repeated, hands-on tests by engineers from American companies and Asian suppliers.

California's "refuge in place" order and ongoing quarantine requirements for foreigners entering China have seriously interfered with the development of 5G iPhones, so that in March Apple even discussed the possibility of delaying the launch of the series of phones until next year.

Apple plans to launch a total of four 5G iPhones with three different screen sizes: 5.4 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches. All these phones will use OLED displays.

According to an earlier report by the Nikkei, Apple originally ordered about 100 million iPhone components earlier this year, but after the coronavirus outbreak, it lowered this target to about 80 million.

Sources familiar with the situation said that unlike the typical production model of the past few years, which is to increase production weekly, the planned output of the upcoming 5G iPhone will be similar to that of weekly, which should help suppliers recruit, train and maintain production lines Workers, avoid labor shortages and soaring costs.

According to sources, Apple's component suppliers and final assemblers Foxconn, Pegatron and Wistron are currently preparing for the upcoming iPhone production, but the production start dates of the four 5G iPhones are different.

"The production line will gradually obtain qualifications and enter the mass production mode. Larger mass production will take place around the beginning of October." An executive-level source said.

All production of the 5G iPhone and the new iPad this year is still going on in China. According to an earlier report by the Nikkei, AirPods assembler Luxshare acquired an iPhone factory from Wistron in July and will begin to assemble a small number of iPhones next year.

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