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Trending in China – The Case of the ‘Missing’ iPhone12

Heather Mowbray / Sep 17, 2020 04:58 PM / Trending Stories

What's trending?

#iPhone12 became one of the most trending subjects on Chinese social media despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that no one has seen one. Apple fans in China were disappointed after staying up throughout the night to watch the U.S. tech giant’s “Time Flies” fall conference Tuesday to find the heavily trailed iPhone 12 was not in the product lineup revealed at the event. #iPhone12 has attracted over 3 billion views on Weibo since it first got its own hashtag, with many of those coming as people speculated on why it wasn’t part of the conference and drew connections to wider U.S.-China relations.

Expected to reveal a new smartphone this year, Apple’s traditional fall conference instead focused on the release of Apple Watch Series 6, iPad Air 4, a 10.2-inch iPad, and the Apple One service bundle. Potential customers of a new 5G enabled Apple smartphone in China, where 5G is being rolled out, will have to wait.

What’s the story?

Addressing supply issues in an earnings call with investors Tuesday, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said “Last year we started selling new iPhones in late September, this year we expect supply to be available a few weeks later.” That led many to believe Apple would launch the ‘missing’ iPhone 12 in October.

Maestri did not reveal why this year’s new iPhone would be delayed. But the Wall Street Journal reported in April that production has suffered serious supply issues due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing Apple to delay mass production of its upcoming iPhone handsets by around a month.

Apple is anxious to release the new 5G enabled iPhone 12 as soon as possible. Huawei, its chief smartphone competitor, has restricted access to chip suppliers due to U.S. sanctions which in theory gives Apple a golden opportunity to bring out new smartphones and capitalize on its competitor’s troubles.

When released, the new Apple phone is expected to come with a new A14 chipset and 5G modem and be available in two distinct models with a 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch OLED screen.

For its latest phones, Apple is depending on supplier Qualcomm with whom it settled a lawsuit over patents in 2019. The 5G modem supplier needs extra time to adapt to the A14 chips.

In addition, according to predictions by well-known Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo on Monday, the latest models will not support a 120Hz refresh rate due to battery life considerations.

What are people saying online?

The disappointment is real for Apple fans who say the conference was not worth staying up for without an iPhone 12 reveal. As one viewer wrote, “Does it mean there will be an iPhone 12 conference in October, it’s so tiring...”

Apple appears to be losing momentum with its China supporters eager to make use of the country’s new 5G data packages. “Before China Unicom called me to upgrade to the 5G package, I refused at first, but later the price dropped, so I upgraded. Now I feel cheated, as the signal is just getting worse,” said one fan.

Some complained that Apple wasn’t the company it used to be. “Jobs has been gone nine years, and this is just one more thing [he wouldn’t have done]”

Others questioned why the phone could not be announced, despite delayed delivery, as the iPad Air announced Tuesday will only be on sale from next month.

Many referenced the political climate which accentuates the competition between smartphone makers. “Apple releases new products on the day Huawei’s chip supply is cut off. Are they mocking us?”

In resignation, one popular comment was, “The iPhone 11 is still pretty sweet.”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Luxshare Grows Into China’s iPhone Champion With Help From Apple 


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