iPhone 12 mass production kicking off later this month, AirTags already in production

Volume production of upcoming iPhone 12 models is slated to start later this month while AirTags, an upcoming item-tracking accessory from Apple, has already gone into production.

That’s per a new report Monday from Nikkei, which claims Apple will start producing its first 5G iPhones in mid-September. Even though this may help shorten the wait until the iPhone 12’s expected October launch, the company could miss its 80 million-unit target for 2020.

From the report:

Apple has overcome travel curbs and other coronavirus disruptions to begin initial production of its 5G iPhones in mid-September, narrowing the production delay to just weeks instead of months.

Manufacturing will begin on a limited scale, with mass production expected to begin gradually between the end of September and early October. This timetable is still behind Apple’s usual schedule over the past few years, when mass production began in August for lineups released in September, but it is a large improvement compared with the situation a few months ago, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Apple is said to kick off production of at least one 5G iPhone this month, the lower-priced 6.1-inch model with two rear cameras. It’s betting this will be the most popular new model because sources claim the 6.1-inch device accounts for around 40 percent of Apple’s 5G iPhone orders. Due to the lost time, Apple’s contract manufacturers could produce between 73 million and 74 million iPhone 12 handsets, with the rest deferred into early 2021.

Nikkei says Apple even discussed the possibility of postponing the launch until 2021.

At the same time, Apple has also significantly boosted manufacturing orders for the upcoming iPads to meet demand for teleworking and remote learning, sources said, an indication of the company’s optimistic outlook for stable demand for the remainder of the year.

Apple managed to gear up production for new iPads recently without much disruption from COVID-19. Production orders for new iPads have reached as much as 27 million units for September-December, one of the people said, nearly as much as all iPad models—both new and old—produced in the second half of last year.

As for the AirTag accessory, it’s already gone into production. Japanese blog Mac Otakara thinks the AirTags may arrive in the second half of October along with the iPhone 12.

As for the first Apple Silicon-powered Mac, it should be released in the coming months as per Apple’s original announcement. Nikkei claims Apple won’t update the iPhone SE next spring, dashing hopes that the popular handset might switch to an annual release schedule

Apple may hold an online event to announce the iPhone 12 family, but other planned product introductions, such as the next iPad Air, a smaller, more affordable HomePod and the new Apple Watch Series 6, may be announced via press releases as soon as this week.