You can still snag almost any iPhone XR on launch day

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Nearly every configuration of the Apple's latest handset is still available hours into launch day. What does this say about iPhone XR sales?
Nearly every configuration of the Apple's latest handset is still available hours into launch day. What does this say about iPhone XR sales?
Photo: Apple

Apple began taking pre-orders for the iPhone XR early this morning, and there are still plenty of them left hours later. Contrast this with the iPhone XS launch which saw some configurations sell out in minutes.

While this doesn’t automatically indicate that demand for the iPhone XR is slow, it’s not a very good sign either.

Apple’s newest has a 6.1-inch LCD display and comes in a range of colorful casing options: white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and (Product)RED.  Capacity options include 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. This model is $250 less than the iPhone XS. 

Explore the differences between the iPhone XR and iPhone XS

A check of Apple’s website shows that AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers can still pre-order any configuration this new handset and have it delivered on the first day it’s available, Friday Oct. 26. That’s every color and every storage capacity.

Something is up with iPhone XR at T-Mobile

There are some configurations for which buyers will have to wait, but only for T-Mobile customers. While there are plenty of units in white and black, many of those who order the iPhone XR in other casing colors won’t get their device for 1-to-2 weeks. There are still blue and coral units with 64GB  of storage capacity in stock, but not anything larger.

But this is only T-Mobile. As discussed, there are currently no shortages at any other U.S. carrier. 

What does this mean for  iPhone XR sales?

What might make all this surprising is the predictions of huge sales for the iPhone XR. Highly respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said it will be Apple’s biggest seller of the year,  for example. And an unconfirmed report coming out of China said Apple expects to ship 20 million iPhone XR units every month stretching into 2019.

But it should be emphasized that just because Apple is able to keep up with demand for this product doesn’t mean there isn’t much demand.  The company could have correctly predicted that pre-sales would be heavy and produced enough units.

Apple has reportedly been doing everything it can to avoid production delays.

A dose of reality

We’ve come to expect Apple products to sell out on opening day, and take that as a sign of how popular this company’s products are. But really, it’s bad business. A customer who can’t buy an Apple product when they want is an unhappy one. And someone who might go up the street and buy a Samsung smartphone instead. So maybe it’s a good thing that Apple has (almost) enough iPhone XR units for everyone who wants one today.

Also, this handset isn’t for the real Apple fanatics. They bought an iPhone XS or XS Max last month. The XR was created for people who like their iPhone but don’t have to have the latest and greatest. And this is a group that doesn’t need to buy their new handset on the very first day it’s available. So the fact that they haven’t ordered one yet doesn’t mean they won’t.