Kuo: iPhone 12 facing mass production delays, iPhone SE Plus release postponed

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities has shared a new investor note today detailing the ongoing development of Apple’s 2020 iPhone 12 models. Kuo also says that iPhone SE pre-orders have been “better than market expectation” so far.

iPhone SE pre-orders

Kuo explains that the first weekend of iPhone SE pre-orders likely excited expectations, but “that the market didn’t have a high expectation” going into the release. The analyst expects shipments of 12-14 million units for the iPhone SE during Q2 2020, followed by 10 million units in Q3 2020.

What does this mean for the rest of Apple’s iPhone lineup? Kuo says the biggest implication of better-than-expected iPhone SE pre-orders is a consumption downgrade. That is, amid the consumer uncertainty caused by COVID-19, consumers are more likely to choose lower price smartphones, or stop buying smartphones altogether. So while the iPhone SE sees better-than-expected pre-orders, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro could suffer.

And taking that into account, TF International Securities is also cutting its Q2 2020 iPhone shipment estimation by 30 percent due to “negative impacts from COVID-19.”

iPhone 12 production

Kuo explains that Apple started the online qualification process for this year’s iPhone 12 models remotely and has delegated more tasks “to local employees.” These changes have led to a one-month delay in engineering verification testing for the new iPhone 12 models.

The iPhone 12 lineup is expected to include four new models, and Kuo is predicting a staggered schedule for mass production this fall. According to the analyst, the rumored 6.1-inch and 5.4-inch iPhone 12 models will enter mass production in September. The 6.7-inch iPhone, however, isn’t expected to enter mass production until October. According to Kuo, this is because the 6.7-inch model has “the most complicated” design.

This could mean that Apple announces all four of the iPhone 12 models at once, but the release dates are staggered. Apple has done this before, such as with the releases of the iPhone X and iPhone XR.

Kuo also cites one more delay, particularly related to the mmWave iPhone 12. According to the analyst, the mmWave iPhone could be delayed further due to recent changes to the antenna design.

The mmWave iPhone will be pushed back because the design of the antenna in package (AiP) changes in early April. Additionally, the test lab is closed and can’t offer qualification process services. If the pandemic can’t be controlled well until July, then we think that the shipment allocation of mmWave iPhones will decrease to 5–10% from 15–20%.

The iPhone 12 models are all expected to support 5G connectivity, supporting both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands. What exactly this delay means is unclear; particularly if every iPhone will include the mmWave technology.

Read more about the iPhone 12 in our full roundup here.

iPhone SE Plus

Finally, Kuo says a larger-screened version of the iPhone SE, which we discovered evidence of in iOS 14 code, has likely been delayed until the second half of 2021. Kuo had originally predicted this model would launch during the first half of next year, but he believes Apple’s timeline has changed.

This means that if you are waiting for the 5.5-inch version of the new iPhone SE, you’ll likely be waiting until the second half of 2021 at the earliest.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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