Why isn’t Apple allowing pre-orders for the iPhone 5s?

Gold iPhone 5s top of the screen

In just about 4 hours, retailers around the globe will begin taking online pre-orders for the new iPhone 5c. And from then until Monday afternoon, tech watchers will be holding vigilant for any kind of word from Apple confirming the handset’s success.

At least the company will have a clear picture of its performance this weekend, because as most of you know, it’s decided not to make its flagship iPhone 5s available for pre-order. Folks will have to wait until next week to purchase the device online or in-store.

Of course, Apple hasn’t offered any reason for why it’s decided to go this route. But as you can imagine, there are a number of theories floating around the web. And on the eve of the 5c pre-order launch, we thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of them…

The most prominent postulation, and perhaps the most likely, is that Apple isn’t offering iPhone 5s pre-orders due to supply constraints. There were several reports leading up to this week’s event claiming that the 5s’ Touch ID was causing production issues.

Touch ID hardware

Here’s a report from DigiTimes back in July:

“Poor yields of fingerprint-recognition chips and LCD driver ICs will likely force Apple to reduce first-quarter shipments of the rumored iPhone 5S, which is slated for launch in September 2013, according to industry sources.

Volume production of fingerprint-recognition and LCD driver chips for the iPhone 5S should have started at the end of June or early in July, but issues related to yield rates will delay commercial production of the two chips to the end of July, therefore affecting the initial supply of the iPhone 5S, the sources explained.”

And the outlet reiterated the report in August.

Looking at this video on the fingerprint sensor, it’s not hard to imagine that it’s difficult to make on a large scale. There’s so many complex components that have to fit into a small space, it would surprise no one if this was the reason behind the lack of 5s pre-orders.

Another popular theory, though, is that Apple chose not to put the handset up for pre-order as a way of encouraging folks to line up outside of retail stores next week. Nothing grabs headlines more than long launch lines, and no one knows this better than Apple.


This one is a little bit harder for me to believe, because putting up big pre-order numbers can also net you media attention. For instance, when Apple announced last year that it received over 2 million iPhone 5 pre-orders in the first 24 hours, its stock crossed $700.

But obviously this is all just speculation on my part, and we’ll likely never know the real reason. Maybe it’s simply that Apple wanted all consumer attention on the iPhone 5c for the first week, since the lower-cost, plastic handset is a bit of an experiment. Who knows?

At any rate, iPhone 5c pre-orders are set to begin tonight at 12:01 am PST. For more information on that, click here.

Why do you think the iPhone 5s isn’t available for pre-order?