Consumers looking to buy the iPhone 6S Plus on its September 25 launch date may have trouble finding one.
At the launch event on September 9, Apple unveiled its next-generation iPhones -- the iPhone 6S and the iPhones 6S Plus. Demand has been heavy for the new phones, especially the 6S Plus, according to Apple, leading to long wait times for those who've preordered. But another factor may limit availability of the new large-screened iPhone.
The iPhone 6S Plus's backlight module, which supplies light to the screen, is allegedly suffering production issues, according to a Monday investors note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, which was picked up by AppleInsider. Kuo apparently didn't specify the exact nature of the problem but said the slowdown in production rests with Apple supplier Minebea, which has been manufacturing the backlight modules.
Assuming Kuo's information is accurate, and the analyst is usually on the money, the production slowdown could put a dent in iPhones 6S Plus sales. Buyers who started preordering the new 5.5-inch-screened phone on Saturday are already facing ship times of up to four weeks, compared with a ship date of September 25 for the 4.7-inch-screened iPhone 6S. That delay could dissuade new buyers looking to preorder from opting for the 6S Plus, perhaps leading them to choose the 6S or picking a rival phone if they want a large display. Even further, supply of the iPhone 6S is expected to be limited on the September 25 launch date, again potentially pushing smartphone buyers to consider other options, both Apple and non-Apple.
Apple has reportedly moved more of the production of the module to another supplier called Radiant, with whom Apple has worked in the past to build the backlight modules for the iPad Mini. Kuo said he thinks Radiant may be "more skilled" at making the modules, AppleInsider said.
"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," Kuo said, according to MacRumors. "To tackle this issue, we believe Apple (US) has been increasingly transferring high-ASP 6S Plus backlight module orders to Radiant, boosting its sales momentum."
Apple is expected to have somewhere between 1.5 million to 2 million iPhone 6s Plus units for sale on launch date, according to Kuo.
On Monday, Apple announced that preorders for the two phones were "very strong around the world," andsaid Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller. Based on the number of preorders, Muller added that Apple is "on pace" to surpass last year's initial sales when it moved 10 million units of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus during their first weekend of availability (including more than 4 million preorders during the first 24 hours).
But this year's launch weekend numbers are, which was not part of last year's initial launch. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in an investors note on Monday that China is likely to account for around 2 million in iPhone sales during the opening weekend. Overall, Munster predicts Apple will sell 12 million to 13 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus handsets the first weekend.
The new phones offer one major enhancement over their predecessors, namely the new, which allows the phone to respond differently based on how much pressure you apply. Otherwise, most of the changes entail improvements to the processor, body, camera and several other components.
Beyond China, New Zealand is the only other addition to the list of countries that will be first to get the new iPhones. The other regions are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK and the US.