April 2 (UPI) — Apple’s engineering team in the U.S. is using video calls to guide Chinese colleagues in assembling prototypes in an attempt to prevent the launch of the iPhone 12, which is scheduled for release this fall,media reported.
Typically, Apple engineers travel to China at this time of year to verify parts of the iPhone’s assembly and engineering processes. However, the travel ban and the requirement to work from home have prevented Apple engineers from travelling to China because of an outbreak of the new coronavirus, which can only be done online. In addition, Apple is working with Chinese partners in other ways, including sending photos back and forth.
These moves have proved to be more problematic, as Apple’s supply chain partners are used to playing a supporting role for their U.S. engineering team. Many Apple executives worry that online exchanges, including photos of unreleased devices, could lead to early release of this year’s product. At the same time, the task was complex due to security constraints, with some staff complaining that the response was delayed or that the quality of the images sent was too low.
Travel restrictions and working from home have also affected Apple’s operations in the U.S., as many engineers have no access to 3D printers and milling machines in Apple Park, which are necessary for the prototype process. In addition, Apple has relaxed staff restrictions to allow unreleased prototypes to be brought home.
Opinions vary as to whether the iPhone 12 will eventually be delayed. Some sources say Apple may delay the release to mitigate the impact of weak consumer demand. But Apple’s supply partners say the company is preparing to release it in the fall, as is customary. (Small)