Maybe you’ve already preordered your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, and are patiently waiting for September 25, and with it, your new iPhone, to arrive. But if you haven’t yet preordered your phone — particularly if you’re planning on going for the larger iPhone 6s Plus — it may not be delivered to you as soon as you think.
Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a note to investors, alleging that the iPhone 6s Plus is facing supply shortages amid what’s expected to be a record-setting period of preorders. Kuo traces the shortages to backlight module production issues at Japanese supplier Minebea, and writes that Apple is trying to resolve the issue by transferring backlight module orders to another supplier, Radiant. Radiant is expected to see its orders increase by 70 to 80%, reaching between 4 million and 5 million units in September. Kuo wrote:
We believe Minebea’s (JP) backlight module production issues in supplying iPhone 6S Plus (6S Plus) is one of the main factors in the model’s supply shortage. To tackle this issue, we believe Apple (US) has been increasingly transferring high-ASP 6S Plus backlight module orders to Radiant (6176 TT, NT$106.5, OP), boosting its sales momentum.
Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider that Radiant and Apple have worked together before, on backlight modules for the iPad mini. Because the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen is relatively close in size to the iPhone 6s Plus’s 5.5-inch display, Kuo thinks that Radiant may be “more skilled” in producing backlight modules in the appropriate size range than Minebea.
A similar issue occurred last year with the supply chain for the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s unclear so far how much the production issues will affect the supply, though Apple fans who didn’t preorder right away, or are planning to buy a new iPhone 6s Plus at the Apple Store when they’re released, may be disappointed.
As Juli Clover reported for MacRumors over the first weekend of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus preorders, the shipping estimates for many models of the new phones slipped to 2 to 3 weeks shortly after preorders opened. At the time, eight out of 10 of the models that Clover listed as having longer ship times were iPhone 6s Plus models. She updated the piece to report, “In the United States, essentially all iPhone 6s Plus models are currently listed with shipping estimates of at least 2-3 weeks, with some at 3-4 weeks. The smaller iPhone 6s remains in much better supply, with only Rose Gold models at T-Mobile and Verizon being pushed beyond the September 25 launch date.”
Shipping estimates have since slipped to 3 to 4 weeks for most models of the iPhone 6s Plus, but Kuo believes that the primary reason for that is the supply chain problems, rather than strong demand. He expects Apple to prepare between 1.5 million and 2 million iPhone 6s Plus units for sale on the phones’ September 25 launch day.
As Arik Hesseldahl reported for Re/Code, Apple has informed the media that early demand for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is “on pace” to beat the record the company set in 2014, when consumers bought 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices in the first weekend of their availability. Apple stated:
Customer response to iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has been extremely positive and preorders this weekend were very strong around the world. We are on pace to beat last year’s 10 million unit first-weekend record when the new iPhones go on sale September 25. As many customers noticed, the online demand for iPhone 6s Plus has been exceptionally strong and exceeded our own forecasts for the preorder period. We are working to catch up as quickly as we can, and we will have iPhone 6s Plus as well as iPhone 6s units available at Apple retail stores when they open next Friday.
Dawn Chmielewski reported for Re/Code that while last year, Apple quickly disclosed that it received 4 million preorders within the first 24 hours it made the iPhone 6 available, there were no such numbers shared this year. While beating that number should have been easy for the iPhone 6s — which, after all, launched had the benefit of launching in the massive Chinese market, which the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus did not — Chmielewski notes that this is only the second time in five years that Apple didn’t disclose precise figures after the first weekend when it made its new iPhone available.
The other time was in 2013, when the company launched the iPhone 5s and 5c. Chmielewski points out that the iPhone 5s, which wasn’t offered for preorder, was “less than a rousing success” in its initial quarter, and boosted Apple’s smartphone sales by only 7% in the first fiscal quarter of 2014. In fact, Re/Code reports that S models typically perform less well than major updates, but analysts expect the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to be different. They project that preorders of the new iPhones will surpass those of the iPhone 6, and Reuters estimated that advance orders will reach 4.5 million units.