Apple Faces 5G iPhone 12 Supply Shortages As Holidays Loom

Apple reportedly ramping up production of older iPhone models to offset supply constraints of the new iPhone 12, amidst ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Apple has ramped up production of older iPhone models in order to compensate for expected shortages of its new iPhone 12 during the Christmas shopping season, according to a report.

Apple launched the iPhone 12 line on 13 October following a month-long delay due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models began shipping on 23 October, with the 5G iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max set to ship this week.

Demand for the iPhone 12 Pro in particular has been “much stronger” than Apple anticipated, Nikkei Asia reported, citing unnamed industry sources.

Component constraints

The model has also reportedly been hit by supply constraints for components such as power chips and lidar components used for depth-sensing imaging functions.

In response, Apple has reallocated components intended for iPads to the production of the iPhone 12 Pro, affecting the production of around 2 million iPad units.

Apple has also asked suppliers to manufacture more than 20 million iPhone 11, iPhone SE and iPhone XR handsets from October through the end of the year to help compensate for the iPhone 12 shortages.

The figure is significant, equivalent to more than one quarter of the 75 million to 80 orders Apple placed for the iPhone 12 series this year, according to Nikkei Asia.

Apple is ceasing production of the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models, however, in part because the models could affect sales of the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

As of last week the wait time on an iPhone 12 Pro 128 GB in graphite was 20 days in the US market if ordered online, or two to three weeks in the Chinese market, according to Apple’s website.

ARM-powered laptops

Apple is also pushing ahead with plans to quickly reduce its reliance on Intel workstation processors, reportedly telling suppliers to produce 2.5 million MacBook laptops powered by in-house ARM-based chips by early 2021.

The figure is 20 percent of Apple’s total 12.6 million MacBook shipments for 2019, Nikkei Asia  said.

The report said Apple plans to introduce further MacBook models using in-house chips in the second quarter of 2021 as it pushes to completely phase out Intel processors within two years.

Apple has announced a launch event set for Tuesday, which is expected to centre on the first range of MacBooks to use ARM-based processors.