Piper Jaffray has been performing biweekly checks of iPhone 5S supply levels at 60 Apple retail stores in the United States and says all systems are go for Black Friday shopping and beyond.
At Apple stores, Apple Insider said in a Nov. 26 report, citing data from the investment firm, 99 percent of iPhone 5S models for AT&T are in stock, and so are 98 percent of models for Verizon Wireless.
AT&T and Verizon together account for 75 percent of iPhone sales in the United States, the report points out, meaning most folks will find that the model they're after is in stock.
At Sprint, the story changes somewhat—only 72 percent of iPhone 5S units for that carrier are in stock; Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster didn't include T-Mobile, which sells an unlocked version of the iPhone, in his survey.
In total, 90 percent of iPhone 5S models are available, down slightly from a year ago, when 95 percent were in, but up significantly from the days after the new iPhones launched and very few model options could be found.
"We view the improvement in supply as an encouraging sign that Apple has begun to catch up to demand," Munster told investors. "We continue to believe that Apple will reach supply-demand equilibrium by early December."
Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley told investors Nov. 14 that his firm's October and November surveys found the iPhone 5S to be "by far the top-selling smartphone at all four tier-1 U.S. carriers and at most channels where the smartphone launched globally."
Walkley also found supplies to be "much improved," particularly for the silver and space gray models.
"The popular gold-colored iPhone 5S, however, remains in short supply," Walkley continued, "with wait times ranging from 10 days to over a month with the duration of the wait varying across carriers and also dependent on consumers' memory preference for this SKU."
The Gold Phone
Apple's competitors are doing all they can to attract consumers away from the iPhone.
HTC, which makes very nice phones that it can't quite manage to sell enough of, is offering the HTC One for just a penny—through Amazon—when consumers sign up for a new contract with Sprint or Verizon.
On AT&T, the One has been reduced to $74.99 and the HTC One mini to $49.99 with a new two-year contract, HTC announced Nov. 26.
But perhaps most likely to catch the eyes of shoppers, particularly those included inclined to shop for a new iPhone, is a special-edition 24-karat-gold-plated HTC One.
The phone is valued at just over $2,500, but HTC will be giving two away, in a contest that involves tweeting images that will be featured on a digital billboard in New York City's Times Square. HTC will also be giving away an HTC One each week until New Year's Day. Full details are at http://one.htc.com/nyc.