Cheap £399 iPhone could still launch on March 31 despite coronavirus crisis, insiders claim

APPLE'S long-awaited "cheap" iPhone 9 could launch on March 31 after all.

The handset – which could cost just £399 – was expected to be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but may still arrive on time.

For months, Apple has been reportedly working on a low-cost iPhone.

The so-called iPhone 9 is expected to look like 2017's iPhone 8, and cost less than half the price of a new iPhone 11 Pro.

But tech insiders have repeatedly warned that the coronavirus crisis in China (where iPhones are made) could cause the device to miss its rumoured March 31 debut.

Now gadget industry site Digitimes has reported that the iPhone 9 is in its "final phase of verification".

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

In most cases, you won't know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.

The report cites unnamed "industry sources" who say assembly is ongoing at a factory in Zhengzhou, China.

Zhengzhou is in the Henan province, which has been heavily impacted by coronavirus – with upwards of 1,000 cases recorded to date.

Importantly, Apple hasn't confirmed that the handset even exists, never mind that it's nearly ready to launch.

Apple is famously secretive about its upcoming gadgets until the official announcement.

The Californian tech giant typically hosts a major product launch event towards the end of March.

In previous years, this March event has been used to showcase new iPhone models.

But it's unclear if Apple's rumoured March 31 will go ahead.

Even if the event is cancelled, it's possible that Apple may still launch the phone online.

However, it's possible that manufacturing delays could create a large time-gap between the announcement and the release.

Apple may also struggle to produce enough units of the rumoured iPhone 9, potentially creating a shortage.

In any case, we do know that Apple's business is being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The coronavirus is believed to have originated in China's Hubei province.

That's near to the Henan and Guandong provinces, which are home to major Apple suppliers.

More than 2,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in those provinces alone.

The current infection rate stands at more than 80,000, the overwhelming majority of which are in China.

But the number of infections in western countries has risen in recent weeks, including in the UK and US.

Apple chief Tim Cook recently warned that the firm was expected supply delays and shortages.

But Apple hasn't officially said that upcoming iPhone models will be pushed back.

This week, we saw reports of Apple warning staff members about a shortage of replacement iPhone units.

In other news, your iPhone gets slower and loses battery life if you always swipe your apps closed.

Putting your wet iPhone in rice won't fix it.

And this genius iPhone trick loved by mums lets you "lock" the touchscreen.

Would you be tempted by a cheap new iPhone? Let us know in the comments!

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