China lockdowns hamper iPhone development schedules

China lockdowns iPhone
Apple iPhone 13 Pro models in the colour “alpine green” are displayed at an Apple shop in Singapore March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

(Reuters) – Apple Inc has told its suppliers to speed up iPhone development after China’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns hampered schedule for at least one of the new phones, Nikkei reported on Wednesday, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

Lockdowns due to China’s zero-COVID policy led iPhone assembler Pegatron Corp to suspend operations at its Shanghai and Kunshan plants last month.

Financial hub Shanghai remains largely paralysed by a city-wide lockdown, which is now in its seventh week, while Beijing has ramped up quarantine efforts.

Since March, mainland China has faced its worst COVID-19 outbreak since early 2020 — using the same zero-COVID strategy of swift lockdowns that had helped the country quickly return to growth back then. Manufacturing areas from the northern province of Jilin to the southern city of Shenzhen were among those initially forced into lockdown.

However, the length of restrictions has varied greatly by region. Shanghai, China’s largest city, essentially remained locked down for all of April. The capital city of Beijing began tightening travel and business restrictions toward the end of the month to control a spike in Covid cases.

Apple last month forecast bigger problems as COVID-19 lockdowns snarled production and demand in China, with the war in Ukraine adding to the iPhone maker’s woes.

In the worst-case scenario, Apple expects the manufacturing schedule and initial production volumes of the new phones to be hurt, the Nikkei business daily reported.

Apple and its suppliers Foxconn and Pegatron did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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