Apple iPhone 5 Release: Worldwide Supply Catches Up To Demand Leading Into Holiday Season

on November 26 2012 11:22 AM

The iPhone 5 has been available for two full months, but now that Thanksgiving's in the rear-view mirror and the holiday season is officially upon us, Apple has reportedly dropped waiting times for its hottest iDevice from 2012, the iPhone 5, in several countries around the world, including here in the U.S.

According to 9 to 5 Mac, the ship times for iPhone 5 online orders have dropped down to just one week in a number of countries, including Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. Reducing these shipping times only benefits Apple, which will ensure its best-selling smartphone will get into more hands in late November and early December, the prime time for shoppers to pick up items before the holiday rush.

Apple has experienced a considerable shortfall of iPhone 5 units since it launched on Sept. 26, largely due to difficulties in building the new 4-inch display screens that are not only thinner, but significantly stronger and less reflective. But after about two months on the market, Apple's foreign supply chains are finally pumping out enough iPhones to satisfy customers in more than 100 countries by the end of 2012, per Tim Cook's wishes.

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible, and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Cook in a Sept. 24 press release. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”

The other consideration to the iPhone is that each unit must be built for a specific frequency. The iPhone 5 is the first Apple phone to feature the high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, but each phone's cellular chip needs to be configured to work with the specific bands owned by each carrier. Currently, the global LTE carriers supporting the iPhone 5 include AT&T, Bell, Sprint, Verizon, Telus, Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, EE and SingTel -- as well as a number of regional carriers like Cricket, C Spire, Nex-Tech Wireless, MTA Solutions, nTelos, and a slew of others.

In the two short weeks after its Sept. 19 unveiling, Apple rolled out the iPhone 5 in record time, releasing the device in 31 different countries and on many different cellular networks. Yet, in the weeks following its initial release, iPhone 5 units were hard to come by -- it was only a couple of weeks ago that shipping times started to recede from three to four weeks to two to three weeks.

Apple hopes to have the iPhone 5 in 100 countries by the end of the year, including China, the company's second-biggest market.

About the iPhone 5

The iPhone 5, Apple’s sixth-generation smartphone, is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S) at just 7.6mm, and is 20 percent lighter than the 4S at 112 grams. The iPhone 5 features a bigger 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching videos in full widescreen, and Apple has again made its new in-cell display a Retina Display, with a screen resolution of 1136 x 640 screen and a density of 336 ppi.

The iPhone 5’s screen, according to an extensive analysis by Amherst, N.H.-based DisplayMate, is actually a “significant improvement” over the smaller screens in the iPhone 4S and 4, and is also substantially brighter and more accurate than the screen in Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which many consider to be the greatest rival to Apple and the iPhone 5. Read the full lab comparison here.

The iPhone 5 is all about speed; in addition to support for the LTE network, the iPhone 5 also features a custom-built A6 processor, which actually boasts more than twice the overall processing performance of any iOS device that’s come before it, including the third-generation iPad, as well as a newly-enhanced camera infrastructure and the new 8-pin ”Lightning” dock connector. The iPhone 5 is powered by iOS 6, which features more than 200 new features for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, including several enhancements to its virtual personal assistant Siri, the handy application for movie tickets and coupons called Passbook, and the completely redesigned -- albeit half-baked -- Maps application from Apple.

Apple sells the iPhone 5 in two color combinations - black and slate, or white and silver -- and at three different storage capacities: The cheapest iPhone 5 comes with 16 GB of space and sells for $199, and after that, it’s $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64GB. Customers are not charged extra for the LTE feature, as the chip is included in all phone models, but due to complications with LTE frequencies, iPhones purchased on one network won't work on another's LTE network when unlocked. In other words, if you buy an unlocked AT&T iPhone 5 in the U.S., it still won't work on Verizon's or Sprint's LTE networks.

Apple sold 26.9 million iPhone units in Q4 2012, and is expected to sell a helluva lot more in Q1 2013.

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