The Apple iPhone 5S will become available Friday, Sept. 20. It's the first time Apple hasn't accepted preorders for a flagship device (despite accepting them for the mid-tier iPhone 5C), and analysts say it's because the 5S will be in short supply.
Due to the iPhone 5S' Touch ID fingerprint reader, it's expected to be more "production-constrained" than previous models, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note, according to a Sept. 19 report from Mashable.
"We believe that Apple will likely sell all of the 5Ses they will produce for launch weekend," wrote Munster. He added that the firm believes Apple didn't take online preorders for the 5S "to avoid customers immediately seeing delivery times for 2-plus weeks out," and that by the weekend's end, he expects Apple to have sold between 6 million and 8 million units, besting the iPhone 5's first-weekend sales of 5 million.
Despite Apple's no-preorder policy, some retail partners have been jotting down names. A call to the Target store in Trumbull, Conn., for example, revealed that the store has been accepting preorders since Monday, though the new iPhones haven't arrived, and it's unclear whether they'll actually arrive Sept. 20.
Where to Buy the iPhone 5S
Apple will sell the iPhone 5S in its retail stores starting at 8 a.m., and so will carrier partners AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Select Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, Walmart and Apple Authorized Resellers will also be selling the iPhones. But if you're hoping to have one in hand Sept. 20, your best bet is likely either an Apple store or a carrier retail location, rather than an authorized dealer location.
All the dedicated carrier stores—versus authorized dealers—that I called said they plan to open at 8 a.m., and none had received their phones, though they're expecting them. It seems the phones will arrive with the sunrise.
"I don't know what I'm getting. Call me in the morning," one authorized AT&T dealer in Brooklyn told me.
Likewise, when I called a RadioShack in Brooklyn, I was told, "We're getting it. We just don't know the exact date." The employee added that the store had received "no announcements" about delivery information.
The dedicated carrier locations, as well as the Apple stores I called, all said they would have all models and all colors in-store Friday morning. However, one Apple employee, after offering a not-very-specific, "We should," in response to whether the store would have all models, got serious and offered to double check. He put me on hold, and a minute later picked up again and told me, "We should."
When asked whether, based on history, the store, located on the West Side of Manhattan, tended to sell out on iPhone launch days by midday, or the next day—basically, whether one needed to hustle over in the morning, pre-showered—he answered, "We have no idea how many they're going to send us."