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iPhone 15 Pro Max is sold out, but you still shouldn’t buy one from scalpers

Published Sep 28th, 2023 8:47PM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max retail boxes.
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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The iPhone 15 has been out for almost a week now, but good luck getting your hands on an iPhone 15 Pro Max. Apple sold out of most of the available launch stock within an hour of preorders opening up. Your experience might vary depending on where you live, but you might be waiting weeks to receive your iPhone 15 Pro Max at this point.

Whatever you do, don’t pay a premium to scalpers on top of the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s already expensive price tag. You probably won’t be shocked to learn that scalpers are partly to blame for the iPhone 15 Pro Max going out of stock so quickly.

A report shows scalpers have been preordering thousands of units directly from Apple and even carriers. The bots can place an order in seconds flat, and once the scalpers receive their order, they often charge up to $300 over the retail price for the handset.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is sold out because there’s huge demand for it worldwide. And that’s despite Apple tweaking the price tag this year. There’s no 128GB version, so the US price starts at $1,199. That matches the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max price, however.

Soon after preorders started, we learned there’s a secondary reason why the iPhone 15 Pro Max has sold out faster than other models. The handset has an exclusive camera, the tetraprism zoom lens. It turns out that Apple has had issues manufacturing the components in large enough numbers. The iPhone maker has supposedly fixed the supply bottleneck, but it’ll need time to catch up with demand.

Scalpers appear to be the third factor here. But rather than manually preordering the handset or waiting in line at Apple stores to snag as many units as possible, they’ve resorted to a tactic that’s been widely used in recent years. Kasada has looked at the scalping action for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and found that scalpers have employed bots to mass-purchase the hottest iPhone of the day.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Image source: Jonathan Geller, BGR

Scalpers have used similar bots to purchase the PS5 during the early days. More recently, Taylor Swift concert tickets got the same treatment.

Kasada offers an example where an “all-in-one” (AIO) bot “notorious for sniping electronics and GPUs” shifted its attention to the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. The expected profit per phone resold is estimated at $300.

What’s even better is that there’s little risk for the buyers. The bot owners might pay thousands for the iPhones, but they have 14 days to return the handsets in case they can’t resell them.

Kasada offers examples of scalpers claiming they purchased nearly 2,500 iPhone 15 devices in one day. That can translate to a $750,000 profit. Another bot got over 3,000 orders in, which would net close to $1 million in profits. These claims can’t be objectively verified, however. But Kasada also offers examples of bots that purchased fewer iPhone 15 units.

Scalpers are clearly buying bots to then purchase iPhones in bulk. Some of them might be developing their own bots to beat regular buyers on preorder day.

It also looks like the bots work with carrier services. The automated service needed just 10 seconds to complete a purchase.

The moral of the story here is simple: Don’t buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max from scalpers. The more people avoid overpaying these premium fees, the higher the chances for the scalpers to return the handset. Also, Apple will be manufacturing more iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max to catch up with demand.

A quick check on Apple’s website shows that you might have to wait 6-7 weeks for an iPhone 15 Pro Max delivery. That’s better than feeding the scalpers. Also, shipping times should improve as we approach the holiday season. This isn’t late 2022 when Apple was facing an unexpected COVID-related production shutdown of the iPhone 15 Pros.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.