Munster: Look which iPhones disappeared first

Pre-orders for the Xs series began at 3 a.m. Eastern Friday. The team from Loup Ventures was up all night with a stop watch.

From a note to subscribers posted Friday by Gene Munster:

Compared to the iPhone X launch last year, this year’s iPhone Xs lead times were, on average, 68% shorter, and the Xs Max lead times were 43% shorter.

Put a different way, for every minute after 3:00 AM you waited to order an iPhone Xs, it cost you 3.2 hours in delayed delivery. For every minute you waited to order the Xs Max, it cost you 5.8 hours. Last year, for every minute you waited to order the X, it cost you 10.1 hours…

Reflecting on lead times is not a science, given we don’t know how many phones Apple is able to produce. That said, over the years, longer lead times have historically been an indicator of healthy demand and shorter lead times softer demand (e.g. iPhone 8 and 5C).

Based on which units ran out first, hard-core early adopters were going for bigger screens (Max over Xs) and larger capacities (512 and 256 over 64).

  1. Gone in 1 minute: iPhone Xs Max Space Gray 512GB
  2. Gone in 20 minutes: iPhone Xs Max Silver 256GB
  3. Gone in 40 minutes: iPhone Xs Space Gray 256 GB

My take (and Munster’s): Pre-orders are slower than last year because this year it’s the iPhone Xr, coming in October, that will be flying off the shelves.

Below: Munster’s spreadsheets. Click to enlarge.

iPhone Xs pre-ordersiPhone Xs pre-orders

From last year:

iPhone Xs pre-orders


  1. Richard Wanderman said:
    I’ve heard that early orders of the Apple Watch are getting ready to ship. I ordered the next day and I’m 33 days out. I think the Watch sold well too. I checked various models of watch and they all have (or had, maybe longer now) a 33 day ship date.

    September 16, 2018
  2. Stephen Young said:
    Okay I will state the obvious. This is a S cycle where production issues should be less than last year’s new X. If you couple that with Q3’s fiscal results where there was a larger parts inventory build up (stated somewhere as larger than normal), makes me believe this years initial availability will be better than the past. IMHO

    September 16, 2018
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    You can’t tell anything definitive from lead times. It’s just as possible that supply and production capacity is greater this year over last.

    After all the limiting factor last year was 3D sensors. This year Apple is so confident about 3D sensor supply that instead of shipping one model for 2 months, Apple is shipping two models for more than 3 months, and another for two months. That is a lot of production capacity. I speculated earlier that one of the reason the 6, 6S and SE were discontinued was to free up production capacity for what the consumer really wants to buy (and Apple makes the most from).

    It’s also possible the X was discontinued because both models of the XS are easier (faster) to manufacture.

    My point is that I shouldn’t assume the worst on reports like these. They are nothing more than fodder for the negative rumors.

    September 16, 2018
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I neglected to include supply of OLED displays in the above. Last displays were sole sourced at Samsung. This year they are also sourced at LG.

      Expanding on Lumentum’s 3D sensor production capacity, Lumentum now has a new production facility in Austin, TX that increased production capacity 4 fold (partially funded by Apple).

      It isn’t just production lines, per se, that discontinuing the 6, 6S and SE freed up, think of the cost savings not having to buy a whole lot more CNCs that will need a facility to house them in, and people to staff them. This item alone tells me that Apple intends to sell far more iPhone XS, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone Xr’s this year over last years performance of the original iPhone X.

      September 16, 2018
  4. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    There’s an important factor to consider. Although I am on the Apple annual upgrade program (along with other members of the household), we are in no rush to upgrade until next month. But we will upgrade our iPhones within a month.

    When I worked through the pre-qualification process under the program, I was informed we have completed 11 of the required first 12 payments. If we upgrade now, we are still obliged to make the 12th payment under the program for our current handsets. Multiplying the 12th payment times the number of members of the household subscribed to the program, it makes fiscal sense to wait until the beginning of October (after the 12th payments are made) to order our new handsets. In other words, it makes fiscal sense to wait until October and use our current handsets rather than incur a 12th payment for handsets we have tendered in addition to the first payment for our new iPhones.

    I am sure there are many other annual upgrade program subscribers who are making the same choice and waiting patiently to complete their payments rather than pre-order now. This may have skewed a large number of orders until a later date.

    I have an iPhone X now and look forward to acquiring an iPhone Xs soon. Other members of the household may choose the Xs Max when the time is right. It’s all good and we look forward to upgrading our iPhones soon.

    It’s just an issue of the calendar and the new iPhone handsets are arriving a bit earlier than last year’s models.

    September 16, 2018
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Timing launch to customers cash flow. Brilliant.

      It’s the little things, the little considerations that makes Apple, and its products, so much better than its competitors.

      September 16, 2018

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