A number of rumors had suggested the iPhone 9 might land soon, and it’s now looking very likely that they were right, as cases for the phone are reportedly being sent out to major retailers in the US, such as Best Buy.
This claim, along with a photograph of one of the cases, comes from a tipster speaking to 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), and if true this would likely mean the iPhone 9 could launch imminently, since physical stock of cases is unlikely to be sent long before the launch.
As for exactly when the iPhone 9 would launch though, that’s still unclear. The source claims that retailers have been told not to merchandise the cases until April 5, but that’s a Sunday, which is a very unlikely day for a new product launch.
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However, it’s unlikely that Apple would want the cases known about before the iPhone 9 is announced, so we could well see it land before then – which would mean an announcement sometime before the 5th.
One leak had even previously pointed to an announcement on March 31, which is today at the time of writing, but with no other sources backing that up we’d take it with a pinch of salt.
Still, the only real reason to doubt a launch soon is the disruption caused by the coronavirus, but a number of reports claim Apple is getting back on track. Most recently a Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report suggested that Apple employees have largely adjusted to working from home and numerous Apple products are on track to launch this year.
The iPhone 9 wasn't specifically mentioned, but the likes of new budget iPads and the iPhone 12 range were, so there's no reason Apple's budget phone couldn't be on target too.
iPhone 9 case inventory arriving at Best Buy, other retailers with April 5 merchandising date https://t.co/qqnA0DgWGA by @ChanceHMiller pic.twitter.com/NE38sWj3DEMarch 30, 2020
As for the case image itself, that doesn’t show us much, other than a camera cut-out in the top left corner of the rear, which is where we’d expect to find it. However, there are two things to note.
Firstly, the image is of a UAG case, which is a big-name brand that might well have launch information in advance, so it’s very believable that its cases could have been sent out to retailers based on accurate launch timing information.
Second, the phone is referred to as ‘New iPhone 4.7" 2020’, which tells us firstly to expect a 4.7-inch screen, as had been rumored, but secondly doesn’t include either of the possible names we were expecting for the new iPhone. Previous rumors had pointed probably to iPhone 9, or failing that iPhone SE 2.
The slightly bland description here probably just means UAG wasn’t sure of the final name, but it’s always possible that Apple is ditching the numbers and just calling its most basic phone the iPhone, much like its most basic iPad is just called iPad. It’s likely that we’ll find out for sure very soon.
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Via GSMArena (opens in new tab)