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iPhone SE suddenly harder to find

A check of Apple US retail stores by AppleInsider reveals that just about every model of the new phone is unavailable for in-store pickup, while online ordering will force you wait at least two weeks for delivery.

Apple's new iPhone SE is playing hard to get.

Apple's new iPhone SE may be a hotter product than initially thought.

Released on March 31, the 4-inch-screened iPhone is facing limited availability at Apple stores in major markets across the US, according to a check by blog site AppleInsider. Almost all models across all carriers are out of stock at Apple's retail outlets. In-store pickup is also unavailable for virtually every model, AppleInsider said.

A check by CNET of stores in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and other major US cities also found in-store pickup unavailable at almost all locations.

Ordering the iPhone SE through Apple's online store will require you to wait awhile for delivery. That includes nearly all models across the four major carriers, in any of the four colors and with either 16 gigabytes or 64 gigabytes of storage. Pay $10 for expedited shipping, and the phone won't arrive for at least two weeks. Opt for free shipping, and you'll wait anywhere from two and a half weeks to three weeks.

Apple took a calculated risk releasing a 4-inch phone at a time when many consumers are craving big-screened models. The company is aiming the SE at people who haven't upgraded for several generations of the iPhone, as well as at consumers who prefer a smaller phone and a lower price tag. Apple needs a win because sales growth has slowed for the iPhone, the largest piece of its revenue pie.

The limited availability of the new phone could be due to heavy consumer demand, a lack of sufficient inventory or a combination of the two. It comes as a surprise, though, since opening weekend interest and sales for the SE seemed lackluster.