Media reported that Apple’s engineering team in the U.S. is stepping up efforts to ensure the legendary 5G iPhone is ready to go on sale this fall, even as the COVID-19 outbreak has hit the global technology industry hard. Many U.S. cities have issued home quarantine and travel bans, and Apple’s prototype engineers are clearly heavily affected because most of the company’s supply chain partners are in China.
Screenshot (from: Apple website)
Typically, Apple sends staff to China during the iPhone’s engineering and assembly phase to verify that the supply chain partner’s processes meet the requirements.
But a new report in the Wall Street Journal says this year has been something special, forcing the company’s engineers to remotely guide their partners’ iPhone prototypes by means of video calls.
In January, Apple completed its first test of the procedure, but as the impact of the outbreak intensified, the two sides had to send photos back and forth, The Information said.
The original inspection process was already quite complicated, but the quality of the images was clearly far less detailed than the presence of the scene. Some executives also worry that this approach may have led to the premature leak of new products this year.
In addition to the difficulty of visiting the foundry, the outbreak has had a significant impact on Apple’s office and business travel in the U.S., with many engineers unable to even touch the 3D printers and milling machines in the Apple Park campus that are necessary for the prototyping phase.
Apple has even relaxed the restrictions on employees taking home prototypes of unreleased devices due to a variety of factors.
It remains to be seen whether the final iPhone 12 smartphone will be delayed. But supply chain partners say the company is still expected to release this fall.