After initial doom-and-gloom warnings about severe iPhone X shortages at launch, things are looking up. If you order a phone right now from Apple’s online store, you’re looking at a ship time of two to three weeks, which is a dramatic improvement on the six-week wait times when the iPhone X hadn’t launched yet.
But you still shouldn’t expect the phone to be consistently in stock — as in, being able to pop down the Apple Store on your way to work to pick one up — for a while. Apple doesn’t comment on its stock levels or manufacturing plans, but the carriers (who still sell around 75% of iPhones) do, and their forecast isn’t all that great.
Speaking at an investor conference, T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter predicted that demand for the iPhone X would “roll over” into the first quarter of 2018. According to a write-up of the event from MobileWorldLive, Braxton predicted that “going into the holiday season we do think we will still be overall supply constrained,” so there won’t be consistent stock in T-Mobile stores over Christmas, at the very least.
This might ultimately be the “super-cycle” of iPhone upgrades that some analysts were predicted. For most phone launches, manufacturers see a bump in demand for the months immediately following the launch, and then sales tail off, and return to the regular sales pattern. But with the iPhone X, it seems that the surge in demand will last for nearly six months. What Braxton was getting at in his comments is that customers will have seen the iPhone X launch in September, planned on buying one more or less right away, but won’t actually go to the store and buy the phone until 2018. That’s unusual, and shows the amount of interest that Apple has managed to generate in its shiniest new gadget.