Apple has asked its suppliers to speed up development of this year’s new flagship iPhones after month-long COVID shutdowns in China hampered the development timeline for at least one of the new phones.
The company wants suppliers to speed up product development efforts to make up for lost time, which in the worst case could affect the manufacturing schedule and initial production volumes for new phones.
Lockdowns began in and around Shanghai in late March as part of China’s strict non-proliferation policy, and the impact on supply chains continues despite the easing of restrictions.
It’s hard to make up for lost time, said an executive at one of Apple’s suppliers. Apple and its suppliers are working around the clock to speed up the development process. The pace of reopening in Shanghai is rather slow, he added.
The company warned that the shutdowns in China have disrupted production of existing models and could affect its revenue by up to $8 billion this quarter.
The company is preparing four new iPhone models for this year, tentatively known as the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models come with 6.1-inch screens. While the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Max Pro models are equipped with a screen size of 6.7 inches.
Reports back in July said Apple is poised to discontinue the 5.4-inch iPhone Mini line this year.
The assemblers, Foxconn and Pegatron, are responsible for a process known as NPI. In the process, Apple and its suppliers map out the manufacturing process to turn their latest designs into actual products for mass production.
iPhone affected by the sudden imposition of anti-Covid measures
NPI tracks a series of verifications carried out on a tight schedule to meet Apple’s required timing for mass production, beginning around the end of August each year.
Although the Chinese company Luxshare Precision Industry is not responsible for the NPI of the new iPhones. But I got some orders to build two of the four models this year.
Pegatron’s iPhone assembly plants in Shanghai and Kunshan – the main hub for Apple-related businesses – have been forced to shut down for weeks due to the Covid lockdown. Its factory in Shanghai was given permission to resume minimalistic operations on May 16.
Apple had hoped that the development of new iPhones would go smoothly this year. This is given that suppliers are accustomed to working amid strict measures to prevent corona virus.
But the sudden imposition of strict containment measures, followed by a month-long shutdown, took the tech giant by surprise.
The phones are currently undergoing engineering validation testing from the development stage. At this point, suppliers design the mechanical parts and manufacturing process for the new iPhones and bill the materials for manufacturing costs.
However, one model is about three weeks behind schedule due to the lockdown in Shanghai. All new iPhone models typically complete engineering verification testing and move to verification by the end of June. This allows plenty of time to get everything ready for mass production by the end of August or the first week of September.
If the development process can be accelerated and moved to the next level at the end of June or the beginning of July, the deadline for mass production in early September can still be met. But it depends on whether the process can speed up soon.