Could Supply Chain Issues Delay the New 6.7-Inch ‘iPhone 14 Max’?

Amid another wave of COVID-19 in China, Apple’s suppliers are being forced to lockdown again.
iPhone 14 Concept Render Credit: Konstantin Milenin / Twitter
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While the global health pandemic may appear to be receding, we’re not out of the woods yet, and neither is Apple when it comes to keeping things moving in its supply chain.

Amid another wave of COVID-19 in China, Apple’s suppliers are being forced to lockdown again, slowing things down when they should instead be gearing up to begin producing this year’s iPhone 14 lineup.

According to Nikkei Asia, at least one of Apple’s new flagship iPhones this year has already fallen behind schedule. Even as Apple’s suppliers are “working around the clock” to keep things on track, sources say it may not be enough.

While Nikkei didn’t elaborate on which iPhone 14 model would be affected by this, analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities is pointing to the newest entry in Apple’s roster — the non-pro 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max that’s expected to replace the smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini in the lineup.

According to Pu, the weak link in Apple’s supply chain is Pegatron, which had to stop production entirely due to the latest lockdowns. As a result of its new strict zero-tolerance COVID policy, aggressive lockdowns began in March in and around Shanghai, setting off a chain of events that persists even as the government has started easing off restrictions.

During its Q2 2022 earnings call, Apple candidly told investors that the ongoing lockdowns could cost it up to $8 billion in Q3 revenue.

Apple’s two largest iPhone assemblers, Foxconn and Pegatron, are reportedly in the engineering verification test (EVT) stage of development, which involves planning the manufacturing process to get ready for mass production. However,

Pegatron’s iPhone assembly plants in Shanghai and Kunshan were both forced to close for several weeks due to the lockdowns. Its Shanghai plant was only granted permission to resume operations on May 16; however, sources say it’s not progressing well. Even though the plant is open, there are still “a lot of restrictions in terms of living and travel in the greater Shanghai area.”

Falling Behind Schedule

Under normal circumstances, new iPhone models complete the EVT stage and move on to final verification by the end of June. It’s a tight schedule that ensures that mass production is ready to begin by the end of August at the very latest. While analysts believe it’s still possible to get things back on track, they’re divided on whether that will happen.

Everyone seems to agree that the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max are on schedule to begin mass production in early August, but the iPhone 14 Max won’t be ready until three weeks after that.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it will ship later than the rest and almost certainly wouldn’t cause Apple to delay its announcement. It may simply be harder to get your hands on one.

However, while veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has confirmed that the iPhone 14 Max is indeed behind schedule, he disagrees with Pu’s assessment of the situation.

According to Kuo’s sources, Apple hasn’t changed its plans for any iPhone 14 models — at least not yet. Kuo believes that Apple’s schedule is still “under control” and that suppliers will catch up and deliver the new 6.7-inch model on time.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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