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Apple’s new cheaper, smaller iPhone might be hard to buy when it arrives, according to new reports.

Supply of the handset – known as the iPhone SE 2 or the iPhone 9 – could be constrained owing to the spread of coronavirus, according to a new report from Nikkei.

Reports have already suggested that Apple is stil on schedule to launch the phone as expected, at the end of March. Despite the problems with coronavirus and the related issues, the company is said to be still on track with the phone.

But the new report suggests that the spread of the virus could hit supply, leading to constrained availability for those trying to buy the phone.

Though the company is on schedule for the launch it is likely to miss the schedule for mass producing the cheaper phone, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

The company had asked suppliers to make 15 million of the phones ready for the first half of the year, the outlet previous reported. Mass production was meant to start at the end of February but is now likely not to begin until March, it said.

The claim came soon after Apple warned that it was likely to miss its sales forecasts because of the disease outbreak.

The spread of the disease in China – which is a major market for both buying and making Apple products – has led to a variety of issues for the company, including closed stores and slower than usual manufacturing.

When the original iPhone SE was released, in March 2016, it was also difficult to buy amid constrained supply. Apple was said then to have been surprised by the interest in the smaller phone, which packed newer parts into an older and smaller design.

The new iPhone is rumoured to take largely the same approach, using the basic design found in the iPhone 8 but filling it with faster and newer internal parts.