Delivery times for iPhone 13 will be extended as COVID hits suppliers in Vietnam

TAIPEI / HO CHI MINH CITY Buyers of Apple’s new iPhone 13 face longer delivery times than expected due to the COVID wave in Vietnam and the US tech giant’s implementation of a new camera feature, Nikkei Asia has learned.

The outage is mainly due to limited supply of camera modules to the four iPhone 13 models because a significant number of its components are assembled in Vietnam, according to people familiar with the matter.

Supply chain sources had expected that this year’s rollout of new iPhones would be relatively hassle-free, as most changes to the updated devices are only incremental, and Apple has been able to store many key components.

But the company has expanded the use of its new sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) to all four iPhone models, as it was previously only in the premium iPhone 12 Pro Max. This has enabled suppliers to increase production without compromising production quality due to severe restrictions due to COVID.

Sensor-shift OIS stabilizes sensors on the camera to make images smoother and video more stable even when users are moving, and this is an improvement over previous technology that stabilized camera lenses.

“Fitters can still produce the new iPhones, but there’s a supply gap [in] that the inventory of the camera modules is about to be about to be about to be low, “said one of the directors with direct knowledge to Nikkei Asia.” There is nothing we can do but monitor the situation in Vietnam every day and wait for them to increase production. “

The situation may improve as soon as around mid-October, when production at one of the main production facilities for iPhone camera modules in southern Vietnam has gradually resumed in recent days after several months of interruptions to and from, another manager said. who was familiar with the situation, Nikkei.

The current waiting time for an iPhone 13 Pro Sierra Blue with 512 gigabytes (GB) of storage space is up to five weeks in China-Apple’s third largest market-while the waiting time for the same model is also five weeks in Japan and four weeks in the US, according to the company’s website . Even the wait time for the iPhone 13 mini, which comes with the smallest screen of the four new iPhones, is seven to ten days in China and the US and up to 15 days in Japan.

Apple declined to comment on this story.

Vietnam, a burgeoning technological manufacturing center, has been facing an increase in the number of COVID cases since April. © Getty Images

Like other companies, Apple has struggled with unprecedented chip and component shortages throughout the year, holding back revenue. It has redirected some chips intended for its new iPads for use in the iPhone 13 series, which has also led to longer than expected delivery times for the new iPad and iPad mini, said one of them with direct knowledge. Apple has limited consumers in China to a maximum of two iPad purchases for the newly launched models, the website shows, a sign that these supplies are also limited.

Meanwhile, many Apple suppliers are now struggling to respond to a widespread production stoppage this week in several Chinese cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces – home to many technology manufacturers. Beijing’s tighter control of energy consumption has led to the halting of industrial power supply across provinces.

So far, key iPhone installers Foxconn, Pegatron and Luxshare have not yet been significantly affected by the power outages, Nikkei learned. However, the extent of a potential chain reaction from production stoppages at manufacturers of materials, components, modules and parts is still unknown. Suppliers are worried about another wave of unexpected power outages next month.

Vietnam, a burgeoning technological manufacturing center that has received a boost from the trade dispute between the United States and China, has been facing an increase in the number of COVID cases since April. The southern part of the country, including Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province, where some technical suppliers are based, has been hit hard by the delta variant.

Suppliers to e.g. Apple, Netflix, Nike and Ikea were forced to halt production in mid-July when the government introduced strict measures to curb the deadliest virus wave to date. Companies could only stay open if workers lived on the site, although it has since allowed several factories to reopen if workers are vaccinated, tested regularly and live in uninfected areas.

The U.S., European and South Korean chambers of commerce in Vietnam – all of which represent key foreign investors – earlier this month expressed concern to the Vietnamese government that overly stringent COVID lockdown measures could jeopardize companies’ willingness to invest in the Southeast Asian nation. A survey showed that 20% of companies have already moved production abroad.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said on Saturday that the government intends to bring the country back to something similar to normal by the end of this month.

“There is actually a limited supply of camera modules for the iPhone 13 series due to the pandemic, but the impact on the shipping of the new iPhones should still be manageable,” Eddie Han, a senior analyst at Isaiah Research, told Nikkei Asia, quoting his supply chain controls.

He said it would be worrying if power supply restrictions in China continue to affect printed circuit boards, materials and petrochemical suppliers, as it is likely to affect component supplies for iPhones in the coming quarter.

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