Apple at its Cupertino launch event earlier this week unveiled three new iPhone models - iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Overall, the new iPhone lineup amounts to an upgrade over the iPhone X, with the premium iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models shipping this month itself. However, the relatively cheaper variant called the iPhone XR that shares a similar design but misses out on a few features, will not be available until late October. According to some analysts, the reason for the delay in iPhone XR's shipping date could be both hardware and software issues.
The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max went up for pre-orders on Friday, and will start shipping from September 21 for the first wave of launch countries. In India, it will become available from September 28. However, the iPhone XR will be available for pre-orders starting October 19, while its shipments will begin from October 26 in over 50 countries and territories, including India. As per a report by The Verge, market researcher IDC has claimed that the delay is unlikely due to a hardware issue. Ryan Reith, IDC's Vice President of Research on Mobile Devices was quoted as saying, "Everything we've been hearing, it's been an issue on the software side. There's a lot of software involved with the LCD screen, as it's the first [LCD display] with a notch and full screen."
As it is, LCD display panels are not as easily bent as the OLED panels (like the ones used on iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max), essentially making a bezel-free design a challenge for the iPhone XR. IDC added that Apple could not get enough of the displays as it ran into "last-minute kinks with the contract manufacturer." Reith said that the LCD panel has been in production for some time now, but the "quality wasn't hitting what they needed." He added that the company had to make changes to the LCD display leveraging software engineering to upgrade the visual quality and also get the manufacturer to cut it into a "notched shape".
Meanwhile, Singapore-based market research firm Canalys predicted that the delay may not result in many people opting the iPhone XS variants. The Verge report says that a Canalys analyst does not expect customers will be so eager to switch over to a new iPhone as soon as possible that they'll end up buying an iPhone XS or XS Max model in the interim. Senior Analyst Ben Stanton, was quoted as saying, "The price differential between the iPhone XS and XR is so great," he said. He added, "Consumers will not be upsold on impulse." Stanton also suggested that Apple would not delay the launch of iPhone XR unless the handset is not ready to be shipped at adequate volume. He said, "The constraint with the device is around the new LCD display, which has bottlenecked production."
Will Apple ever launch reasonably priced iPhones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.