APPLE'S long-rumoured "cheap iPhone" could be back on track – after the coronavirus outbreak risked delaying the handset.
The so-called "iPhone 9" is expected to launch later this month or early next month, and could cost as little as $399 / £399.
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For months, we've been expecting Apple to make a major iPhone announcement on March 31.
But as the coronavirus crisis has gripped the world – and in particular China, where Apple gadgets are made – experts warned of delays.
Now China appears to be taking control of the virus and re-opening factories, which could put the iPhone 9 back on track.
In a tweet, respected tech analyst Jon Prosser said: "iPhone 9 has just entered mass production.
"I'm being told they literally said 'f*** it' and sent out parts orders.
"Apple is working with BYD in China to spread out production and move faster."
We spoke to top industry insider Dan Ives, who said that an iPhone 9 is likely just around the corner.
And he said that we probably won't see Apple's widely rumoured 5G iPhone until much later in the year.
"I believe iPhone 9 now on its way as high likelihood no other iPhone releases until holiday season at earliest," said Dan, an expert analyst at Wedbush Securities, speaking to The Sun.
"With consumers in the US/Europe focused on health, groceries and keeping jobs, it would not be a smart move to release its 5G phones till this corona apocalypse passes."
We've asked Apple for comment and will update this story with any response.
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It's possible that the device may still be announced on March 31, but that the phone won't be released for a while.
Alternatively, the phone could still launch in stores on time – but with stock shortages.
In any case, we do know that Apple's business is being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The coronavirus is believed to have originated in China's Hubei province.
That's near to the Henan and Guandong provinces, which are home to major Apple suppliers.
More than 2,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in those provinces alone.
Apple was forced to close its stores in China (since re-opened), and later in affected countries around the world.
Apple chief Tim Cook recently warned that the firm was expected supply delays and shortages.
But Apple hasn't officially said that upcoming iPhone models will be pushed back.
COVID-19 originated in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since travelled rapidly across the globe.
People can spread the virus to each other through close contact or bodily fluids.
An infection causes flu-like symptoms and is thought to kill around 1% to 3.4% cases – largely the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions.
The virus has killed more than 8,800 individuals worldwide, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University.
In other news, Instagram has banned dangerous, reckless and insensitive coronavirus filters.
Criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by sending scam emails claiming to be from the WHO.
And, we debunked some of the most outrageous coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Would you be interested in a cheaper iPhone model with less powerful specs? Let us know in the comments!
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