Poor iPhone availability has Apple accelerate plans to limit its reliance on China

Apple iPhone 14 in store
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has reportedly told suppliers to redouble their efforts to reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing amid ongoing issues in the country.

Recent COVID-19 lockdowns and employee riots caused Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant to produce far fewer iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro models than usual — to the point of Apple releasing a statement to admit that supply wouldn't be able to meet the demand for Apple's best iPhones.

Apple was already working to reduce its reliance on China, but it's now reported that companies have been told to "plan more actively for assembling Apple products elsewhere in Asia. It's thought that India and Vietnam are at the top of Apple's list, with Foxconn potentially being cut out of plans altogether.

Turmoil

Problems at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou have put the spotlight firmly on a company that assembles many of Apple's products. But the Zhengzhou plant is the only one capable of creating iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro handsets. So now WSJ (opens in new tab) reports that Apple is "looking to reduce dependence on Taiwanese assemblers led by Foxconn."

The report says that Apple is considering using a bigger pool of assemblers, even if they are based in China. Wingtech and Luxshare are two companies expected to benefit. But moving manufacturing is never easy.

"Apple and China have spent decades tying themselves together in a relationship that, until now, has mostly been mutually beneficial," the report notes. "Change won't come overnight. Apple still puts out new iPhone models every year, alongside steady updates of its iPads, laptops, and other products." As the WSJ puts it, Apple "must keep flying the plane while replacing an engine." That means it needs to find new suppliers and assemblers while still producing products at a rate that fills stores with products.

Right now, that isn't happening. Buying many Apple products is an exercise in frustration with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max particularly hard to come by.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.