Apple is preparing to release the iPhone 9 later this month, with a launch event on April 15th before hitting retail one week later on April 22nd.

The report on the potential launch comes from noted Apple tipster Jon Prosser:

“Per an internal meeting yesterday, Apple is now preparing for an April release. Tentative dates: Announcement on April 15, Shipments on April 22. Keep in mind: we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and things could change. Fingers crossed.”

Apple would not be alone in launching new hardware during this period. Last week saw Huawei debut the P40 family of handsets, while OnePlus is set to launch the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro later this month. There may countless millions joining into isolation in their homes around the world, with countries implementing ‘lockdowns’ as required, but life will carries on both during these efforts and afterwards.

The iPhone 9 is going to be an important handset for Apple even though many believe the original launch plans have been disrupted. As Tim Cook and his team push the main iPhone line higher up the price bands, with handsets touching $1500 dollars, this pull has resulted in a price gap underneath the new handsets. That gap is filling up with ‘near flagship’ Android devices. Apple is losing the mid-tier consumers as it chases the top of the market.

Hence the iPhone 9, with its rumoured $399 price point, becomes a key handset, blocking the flow of users to Android and bringing them into Apple’s cloud based services with a wealth of subscription services. Outside of the saturated US and European markets, this lower priced iPhone will be expected to make inroads into the BRIC markets to increase Apple’s presence and share, with India being a key consideration.

It’s also worth noting that in the rapidly changing world that the iPhone 12 family – previously expected to be announced and released in September 2020 – could be delayed with some suggesting 2021 as a more realistic date.

That would make the iPhone 9 the only new iPhone handset to be launched in 2020. If it wasn’t already a key handset in Apple’s strategy, there must be some consideration being given that the iPhone 9 will have to carry the company for the rest of the financial year.

Increasing market share at home and abroad, increasing the pool of users for subscription services, and opening up new markets. The iPhone 9 may end up being the smallest iPhone handset in the current line-up, but it’s going to need very broad shoulders to lead Apple into our brave new world.