Good luck finding an iPhone 5S on Friday

The iPhone 5S may be a rare item on launch day, with multiple reports claiming inventory issues.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read
The iPhone 5S may not be as readily available as the iPhone 5C. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

The new iPhone could be an even harder item to obtain than usual come launch day -- at least when it comes to the iPhone 5S.

Supplies for the higher-end iPhone are said to be constrained at launch Friday, according to Boy Genius Report and 9to5 Mac. The carriers also are reportedly facing supply issues, according to AllThingsD.

One carrier source backed up the report to CNET.

"We don't believe we'll have inventory of the iPhone 5S to satisfy demand," said a person familiar with one of the major carrier's launch plans. "We would certainly like more. Hopefully (Apple) will resupply quickly."

Supply issues aren't new to Apple. Indeed, the company often faces shortages with each new iPhone.

But this year, it appears as if the iPhone 5C will be the more readily available version at stores. Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of the inventory is made up of the iPhone 5C, 9to5 Mac reported.

It's unclear why there's an issue with the iPhone 5S inventory. But some had already feared a scarcity of supply when Apple only offered the iPhone 5C for preorder. Anyone who wants the iPhone 5S on the first day will have to go to a carrier or Apple store.

CNET contacted Apple for comment, and we'll update the story when the company responds. Verizon Wireless and AT&T declined to comment, while Sprint and T-Mobile weren't immediately available for comment.

This is the first year Apple is offering two new iPhones, having previously discounted older versions of its flagship phone as the low-cost option. But with the iPhone 5C, the company is offering a plastic version of the iPhone 5, alongside the option for different colors.

Apple released a reminder earlier Tuesday to fans looking to buy either iPhone. In it, the company noted that the phones would be available at its stores, carriers, and retail partners.

In the past, Apple has doled out a certain part of its inventory to the carriers and retailers, but the best bet for getting a new iPhone was to go to an Apple store. But this year, it may be tough to get an iPhone 5S no matter where you go.

Check back in on Friday for CNET's coverage of iPhone launch day.

Updated at 1:04 p.m. PT: to include a comment from a carrier source.

Watch this: Apple's iPhone 5S: A close look