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Apple's 5G iPhone is still expected to launch this year despite coronavirus, report says

The report says Apple's next-gen smartphone may still face delays due to COVID-19, but it's less likely.

Rumors swirling around the next iPhone have focused on its launch date.
Angela Lang/CNET
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Apple fans largely know what to expect from the next iPhone, from its likely new colors to its included super fast 5G wireless capabilities. What they're not as sure of is the launch date.

The iPhone maker was among the first companies to raise the alarm about the coronavirus pandemic that's infected more than 10.5 million people and killed more than half a million. In February, Apple warned that the coronavirus was hurting its ability to make iPhones, and would likely disrupt its business. Half a year later, Apple watchers are trying to figure out whether that'll hurt its ability to launch the next iPhone too.

So far, rumors from Apple's supply chain have said the phone will still launch in the fall, though supplies may be limited. Reporters at Nikkei said their unnamed sources indicated Apple is facing delays of between four weeks and two months for mass production of its 5G iPhones, largely due to the pandemic. 

Apple said in an April conference call with analysts that its production capabilities have largely returned to normal, though that was before coronavirus infections around the world began to accelerate at a pace worrying health officials. Apple declined to comment.

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Analysts and Apple fans are watching closely to see whether Apple is able to make its annual iPhone update in the fall. The new iPhones aren't just important for Apple, which relies on the smartphone for more than half its revenue. Apple's also served as a bellwether for the tech industry, giving early indications of production delays amid COVID-19 as well as when retail stores can reopen. The company, which has historically resisted allowing employees to work remotely or from home, is also being closely watched by its tech peers to see when staff will be brought back to its headquarters, or if they may be sent home again.

Apple will give its next major financial update on July 30 at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET. CNET's global team will cover Apple's announcements, as well as others from large tech companies. And our coverage will include the real-time updates, commentary and analysis you can only get here.

See also: iOS 14: These 6 features will make you love your iPhone more. Here's how you'll use them