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Four-inch iPhone SE still seeing some supply constraints
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MacNN Staff
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Jun 15, 2016, 05:29 PM
Even though it launched in late March and uses a familiar design, the four-inch iPhone SE is still seeing constraints on supply (or unexpectedly strong and long-lasting demand) that has kept the device at about a two-week wait time for US and overseas customers alike. The ongoing supply issue is in marked contrast to recent improvements the company has made in improving wait times for newly-released products, like the most recent MacBook refresh.

The iPhone SE has not seen anything less than a two-week delay since it was introduced, and SIM-free versions can stretch to three week ship times in some cases. Other countries are reporting similar shipping delays, and CEO Tim Cook previously admitted -- during an analyst conference call in April -- that it was "clear there's a demand there that's much beyond what we thought, which is why we have the constraint that we have." He added that Apple was "thrilled with the response we've seen on it," which appears to be broad-based as suggested by the worldwide constraints.

One possible explanation is that the iPhone SE, while based on an old design, is nonetheless the first "new" iPhone model since last September, and has been widely lauded as an exceptional value, with glowing reviews. Cook himself pointed out that, given the falling out of favor of small-display smartphones from rivals, the iPhone SE had arrived as both the most powerful four-inch display smartphone ever built, and the least-expensive iPhone ever offered, with prices starting at under $400 for outright ownership of the device.

Due to the enormous scale of Apple's iPhone distribution chain, the company has to anticipate demand months in advance in order to avoid shortages, but it is unclear whether the ongoing supply issue is due to a deep under-estimate of ongoing demand or issues ramping up production to market balance for a product that may -- or may not -- see a strong drop in the fall when the presumed "iPhone 7" line takes center stage as the newest model. Demand for the iPhone SE is said to be driven by high switcher appeal -- which could also account for the ongoing nature of the constraints -- as well some users' preference for smaller devices.
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Jun 15, 2016, 05:57 PM
Omygosh, an informative and balanced article. Give me a drink, I'm going to celebrate. Very nice to see in the sea of online crap that is passed off as "journalism these days.

Nice work.
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Jun 16, 2016, 09:52 AM
I'm delighted to see the iPhone SE doing so well and hope Apple is able to clear up the supply constraints. Quite frankly, it's the only product Apple has turned out in years that's impressed me. Rather than cripple their low-end smartphone to push customers toward something pricey, they created one so powerful, they can keep it on the market for years, benefiting from a long production run. The only mistake Apple made was giving the basic version only 16 GB of storage. That's woefully inadequate for one with this pixel-rich a camera. They need to up that to at least 32 GB. That'd cost less than a cup of coffee and make a lot of new iPhone users happy.
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Steve Wilkinson
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Jun 17, 2016, 02:34 AM
Or... it might just be that Apple read the whole race for the biggest screen thing wrong, and that, in fact, 4" smart-phones are a bigger slice of the pie than they thought. But, since price-wise it's also a bit more of a budget model, that will probably be seen as the driver. (Though, at like $709 in Canada, it just doesn't feel like 'budget' pricing!)

As an aside, I'm curious to see how the % of the iPhone line of actual purchases compares to that 10% from MacNN's polling.
Steve Wilkinson
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