Apple May Delay 5G iPhone Launch Due To Coronavirus: Report

The first iPhones to support 5G may not launch until October as engineers are restricted from traveling to China.


Apple's launch of its highly anticipated 5G iPhones could reportedly see a delay this fall as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

While new iPhone models typically debut in September, this year's models—which are expected to be the first to support high-speed 5G connectivity—may not arrive until October, according to a report from DigiTimes.

[Related: Apple Confirms It's Taking A Revenue Hit From Coronavirus Crisis]

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The report attributed the potential delay to Apple's restrictions on employee travel, which are preventing engineers from traveling to Asia. The engineers must perform verification tests in China on the 5G-supporting iPhones. Apple is reportedly now keeping the travel ban in place through the end of April, an extension of one month beyond the prior timetable.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DigiTimes report follows comments by a Bank of America analyst on Friday, which had pointed to a possible one-month delay in the launch of 5G iPhone models. A delay in the 5G iPhone could be a major blow to Apple at a time when the company is seeking to reverse its declining iPhone sales.

Reports also suggest that impacts from the coronavirus could affect the expected launch of the iPhone SE 2. The affordably priced, small-screened iPhone model had been expected this spring, but could now be delayed by several months, according to Bank of America.

That potential delay may result both from supply disruption and a weaker demand environment, according to a Bloomberg report.

Amid a widespread selloff in global stock markets Monday, Apple's stock price was down about 5.2 percent to $273.96 a share as of Monday afternoon Eastern Time.

In mid-February—prior to the widening of the outbreak globally—Apple had revised its revenue guidance downward on coronavirus impacts. The company cited constrained production and lowered demand in China at the time.

In the final quarter of 2019—Apple's first fiscal quarter—the company had seen the return of iPhone sales growth "thanks to the exceptional demand for the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a call with analysts in January.