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iPhone 6S preorders begin with initial glitches

Preorders for Apple's two new phones were set to start online at 12:01 a.m. PT Saturday, but Apple's Web store wouldn't load for some users for nearly an hour. The firm's mobile app did work, however.

Preorders began September 12 for Apple's new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. James Martin/CNET

Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus preorders kicked off Saturday morning with a few glitches that have become typical of the company's product launches.

Apple had said preorders for its new devices could begin as soon as a minute past midnight, Pacific time. But many avenues for preordering -- including Apple's online store -- were unavailable for some users for nearly an hour after order-taking was slated to begin. The issues mirrored past iPhone launches, including last year when eager shoppers couldn't access the store for about two hours.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.

The Cupertino, California, company on Wednesday unveiled the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, its newest smartphones, featuring faster chips, better cameras and new screen technology. Pricing starts at $199 under a two-year contract, and the phones are due to hit stores September 25.

The new devices largely look identical to last year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus though with stronger aluminum bodies. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus come in a new rose-gold option and incorporate 3D Touch, which recognizes different levels of pressure on the touchscreen. They also have new camera technology, including a better front-facing camera for selfies and a "Live Photos" feature that captures three seconds of motion before and after a picture is taken to display a sort of short video of the photo.

Having a successful iPhone launch is key to Apple's success. The company's iPad business continues to struggle, and its Apple Watch hasn't yet become a major moneymaker. Apple now generates more than two-thirds of its revenue from its smartphone, which means it's vital to get customers interested in the newest iPhones.

The iPhone 6S has a high bar to clear for success. The iPhone 6, released in 2014, has become Apple's best-selling device ever, impressing not only investors on Wall Street but also customers that the company says are switching over from competitors. Demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was high when preorders began on September 12, 2014. Within hours, all iPhone 6 Plus models were on a three- to four-week delivery delay, while most iPhone 6 models were pushed back to 7 to 10 days.

Apple later announced record preorders of more than 4 million iPhones in the first 24 hours -- double the number of iPhone 5 units it had sold in the first 24 hours of preorders two years before.

The Apple Store online didn't load for many users when preorders were slated to start for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

Demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was so high when preorders began that Apple's online store and various carriers couldn't keep up. Outages plagued the Apple Store site for more than two hours after the iPhones became available for presale at midnight PT. Despite the outages, customers scooped up the devices at a rapid clip. And thousands of people lined up at Apple and carrier stores to buy the device a week after preorders began.

This time around, the Apple Store website again wouldn't load for many users, but others accessing the store through Apple's app had no problems. The major wireless carrier sites also had some issues. In typical Apple fashion, some models were back-ordered within minutes of the start of preorders. The rose gold iPhone 6S Plus appeared to be in particularly short supply.

Walter Piecyk, a technology analyst with BTIG, tweeted about 20 minutes after preorders began that AT&T's site already showed October shipping times, but the Apple Store app still had launch-day deliveries available for some devices.

There could be a new wrinkle for customers this year. Apple last month redesigned its website to remove the standalone "Store" tab, instead integrating the option to buy its devices onto the product information pages. At the time, Apple said in a statement that it "redesigned knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place." The company said it believed this new approach was "improved."

Updated continuously until 1:02 a.m. PT: Added details about the start of preorders.