The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are big hits. It’s clear people are into the 48-megapixel camera and Dynamic Island. Compared to the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, the demand for the iPhone 14 Pros has been constrained “since the beginning” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s Q4 2022 earnings call.
“We’ve been constrained on the 14 Pro and the 14 Pro Max and we continue to be constrained today,” Cook said. “And so we’re working very hard to fulfill the demand.”
As the world bounces back from the pandemic, naturally, supply constraints — like the great GPU shortage — should be less of a problem, right? It’s complicated.
Where iPhones are made
To understand why the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max supply is backed up, you need to know a little bit about where they’re made: China. Foxconn, the manufacturing company Apple contracts to build iPhones and its other devices, plays a key role in why the delivery times for the iPhone 14 Pros are currently estimated between one to two months. While Foxconn is a Taiwan-based company, its operations and factories are largely in China because of the country’s access to more workers and cheaper labor.
Usually, when supply is “normal” it can take as little as a week to a few weeks for a new iPhone to arrive at your doorstep. But if you’ve been paying attention to international affairs, you’ll know that China has been intolerant of Covid-19 outbreaks. That is, despite mass vaccination, China has what’s called a “zero-Covid” policy, where entire cities, and workplaces like Foxconn, can be locked down until there are no cases of Covid-19. It’s the kind of dystopian order only an authoritarian state can pull off; a stark contrast to the Western world where people are living with Covid-19 like it’s the flu as opposed to trying to eradicate it entirely.
In three years, aside from mentioning Covid-19 delays during earnings calls, Apple has never issued any press release discussing the supply constraints of its products, certainly not one that seems almost apologetic to customers. On Sunday, November 6, Apple pushed out “Update on supply of iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max” via its Newsroom site:
COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly facility located in Zhengzhou, China. The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity. As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prioritizing the health and safety of the workers in our supply chain.
We continue to see strong demand for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models. However, we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.
We are working closely with our supplier to return to normal production levels while ensuring the health and safety of every worker.
Chinese authorities in Zhengzhou on Wednesday (Nov. 2) placed the world’s largest iPhone assembly site, run by Taiwan’s Foxconn, on lockdown in response to a local COVID outbreak.
Obviously, having to wait longer for an iPhone 14 Pro or 14 Pro Max is a very first-world problem to have. But with the holidays coming up, it’s worth bringing to everyone’s attention, especially if the iPhone 14 Pros are on any gift lists. Our advice: get your shopping done early or risk the iPhone 14 Pro / 14 Pro Max not arriving in time.