Next iPhone launch may be delayed by coronavirus

Apple’s next iPhone launch may be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has announced its latest smartphone in September every year since it was first released in 2007, but supply chain disruptions and travel restrictions may change that, according to Japanese news service Nikkei.

The outlet reports that Apple has held internal discussions about potentially “delaying the launch by months,” and cites sources within Apple’s supply chain which say that “practical hurdles” may also have a hand in delaying the release.

Apple traditionally needs to send engineers back and forth from its offices to its factories in China to finalize designs in the lead-up to the product’s release. But the coronavirus has led Apple to restrict employee travel to hotbeds of the disease, including China.

Apple’s next iPhone is expected to introduce 5G technology, which allows for significantly faster network speeds.

An iPhone delay would be far from the first Apple event to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened more than 400,000 people around the  world.

Apple last week announced of new versions of its iPad Pro, Mac Mini and MacBook Air devices via a press release, rather than its traditional March keynote. The devices are available to purchase online only, because the company last week also said that it was extending the closures of all its retail stores outside of China “until further notice” due to the pandemic.

To the surprise of some analysts, Apple’s release last week skipped the rollout of a lower-priced version of the iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 9.

The company earlier this month also canceled the in-person portions of its annual WWDC developer conference, which it said would instead take place in an “entirely new format.”

WWDC is one of Apple’s most important events of the year, where it unveils new features for its iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as shows off the latest version of its iOS software.

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