World's biggest iPhone factory halts hiring amid iPhone shortages... because it ran out of COVID-19 quarantine space

iPhone 14 Pro Max Deep Purple and iPhone 14 Pro Space Black
(Image credit: Future)

Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant is the biggest on the planet, building iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max handsets that are sold the world over. But it's having a bad spell and has now had to freeze hiring despite a global iPhone shortage.

The pause comes as the company deals with a COVID-19 outbreak in the wider community and it reportedly can't hire any more people until more quarantine space becomes available.

iPhone lockdown

The situation at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant was already bleak. The company first had to deal with lockdowns over spiraling COVID-19 infections and then saw people flee the plant in an attempt to avoid those lockdowns.

The factory's inability to produce Apple's best iPhones quickly enough saw Apple release a statement warning that iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max stocks would be limited. Now, the company needs 100,000 more workers to get its factory back up to speed, but a South China Morning Post report says that's proving problematic.

"Under the required closed-loop mode of production that keeps workers confined to Foxconn’s campus to minimize the spread of Covid-19, potential job candidates must go through a health check and a quarantine at a designated location before going to work on production lines," the report says. 

"New hires must quarantine for four days, according to the latest notice from Foxconn’s iPhone production unit in Zhengzhou."

Hiring has now been paused for three days to allow the backlog to clear. Once it does, Foxconn can get back to the business of hiring more people to build Apple's high-end iPhones. At full capacity, Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant can house as many as 300,000 employees at a time, with living quarters and other facilities provided.

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have been hard to come by ever since they went on sale in September. Supplies are so constrained that the chances of getting one before Christmas are thin even if you order today.

Oliver Haslam

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.