According to a report from Japanese site Macotakara, this may be the case. It’s certainly makes sense given the state of the world. A widespread pandemic has a way of wrecking everything, including global electronics supply chains, device design decisions and release schedules.
According to this report, the new iPhone 12 hardware will not be announced until mid-October, which is around a month later than usual. Macotakara also reports that Apple will release an LTE version of the iPhone 12 soon after this event, with the 5G versions arriving in November, much later than usual for an iPhone. There have been late arrivals before, notably the iPhone X, which hit the market on November 3, 2017, over a month after the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. That said, it sounds to me like Macotakara is calling for an even later release, just ahead of the Black Friday shopping season.
It will be interesting to see who turns out to be right, because Ming-Chi Kuo and analysts from Wedbush have already weighed in on 5G and the iPhone 12 release schedule and their reports seem to contradict everything in Macotakara’s. Wedbush reported that Apple has been able to overcome the issues related to the pandemic and will be releasing on time in September. According to Mr Kuo, all of Apple’s new phones will be 5G-compatible and none will be LTE-only.
If I were a betting man, I would back Kuo and Wedbush on this one. The pushed release date makes sense, but I still trust them over Macotakara, frankly. That, and if WWDC and the beta process for all of their OSs are any indication, Apple seems to have already gotten a lot of things back on track in the wake of COVID-19. Whoever turns out to be right, we are closing in on the home stretch for supply chain rumors on fall releases, so we should know more very soon.
One interesting thing if Macotakara does turn out to be right will be the effect of a pushed iPhone release on the rest of Apple’s hardware schedule for the year. If the rumors are true, there’s a lot coming in a fairly short amount of time. Normally there is another release slot after the iPhone, but before Black Friday and Christmas shopping season. If Macotakara’s timeline is correct, the 5G iPhones will be taking up a chunk of that last spot. If that is the case, Apple may have to shuffle other device releases around in response.
This would likely mean that items like a new Apple Silicone MacBook or an iPad Air would hit shelves ahead of the new iPhone or maybe at the same time as the first one, when Apple would normally release such devices after. The same could also happen with the Apple Watch, which was expected to be released along with the new iPhones. Who knows at this point. I hope Apple can still release the goods on time, but it will certainly be interesting if they don’t.