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At least one iPhone 14 model is behind schedule after China lockdowns, report claims

Published May 25th, 2022 7:31AM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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In the past few months, the Chinese government imposed strict lockdown measures in response to a new wave of COVID-19. The restrictions impacted production and logistics in the region. Apple’s suppliers were also affected, with the iPhone maker having already warned that it expects to lose up to $8 billion in the June quarter. We wondered whether the iPhone 14 would see launch delays following the lockdowns, even though development seemed to be on schedule.

A brand new report from Asia indicates that at least one iPhone 14 model might see delays as it’s fallen behind schedule.

iPhone release issues aren’t unusual

Apple’s newest iPhones come in the fall, so it might seem unusual for the iPhone 14 series to see any delays. Apple has mastered the art of mass-producing and selling hundreds of millions of iPhones every year. Even during the pandemic, the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 series were best-selling devices. Of those, only the iPhone 12 saw launch delays.

The company has a massive supply chain in place, with vendors dying to score iPhone contracts. And supply chain reports routinely show that parts makers are ready to offer Apple preferential treatment and meet all its requirements.

Even so, it couldn’t prevent iPhone launch delays in the past few years. If anything, a delay for the iPhone 14 would not surprise. Three of the past five iPhone models saw some release issues.

Not all of them came during the pandemic, although only the iPhone 12 series forced Apple to postpone the launch event.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Main
Apple iPhone 12 Pro with display turned on. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The 2017 iPhone X started selling in early November, although the cheaper iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus made their regular mid-September debut.

A year later, the more expensive iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max hit stores in September, with the more affordable iPhone XR launching more than a month later.

After an iPhone 11 that reached stores on time, then novel coronavirus pandemic happened. Apple unveiled the iPhone 12 series only in October. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro started selling by the end of the month. The mini version and the iPhone 12 Pro max reached stores in mid-November.

Like the iPhone 11, the iPhone 13 launched on time, despite the ongoing pandemic restrictions and logistical issues that impacted goods manufacturing last year.

Which iPhone 14 will see launch delays?

Before the new lockdowns in China, iPhone 14 development seemed to be on track. After two years of living with COVID-19, it appeared that Apple had adjusted to manufacturing hundreds of millions of iPhones during the pandemic. But the company can’t prevent manufacturing restrictions like the ones that impacted its supply chains recently.

A new report from Nikkei Asia claims that at least one iPhone 14 model has fallen behind schedule. It’s unclear what models might be impacted, but one of them is reportedly three weeks behind the usual schedule.

The four iPhone 14 versions are in the engineering verification test (EVT), according to sources familiar with the matter. It’s at this stage that suppliers design the mechanical parts and manufacturing flow. They also draw up bills for bills of materials (BOM). But the lockdowns in Shanghai are responsible for the delay of one iPhone 14 model.

iPhone 14 Pro 3D Renders
iPhone 14 Pro 3D renders: New notch design and rear-camera. Image source: Technizo Concept and LetsGoDigital

New iPhones should complete the EVT stage by the end of June. This ensures that Apple can manufacture the smartphones in time for the September launch.

The iPhone 14 delay could impact the release date for at least one model. But suppliers can still catch up.

“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,” one person told Nikkei. “But it really depends on whether the process can accelerate soon.”

What will Apple do?

Given the iPhone delays in recent history, it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple unveiled the iPhone 14 series in September, even if it can’t start selling all four models that month. Apple could always release some iPhone 14 versions in September and launch the delayed model(s) several weeks later.

This is just speculation, however. Hopefully, we’ll know more about Apple’s iPhone 14 plans in July. That’s when Apple discloses its earnings report for the June quarter. It’s at this time that Apple would warn investors about iPhone 14 launch event delays. That’s what Apple did with the iPhone 12 nearly two years ago.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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