By Soham Chatterjee and Ankush Sharma
(Reuters) - Customers may have to wait three to four weeks to get their hands on Apple Inc's <AAPL.O> iPhone 6 Plus, after a record number of orders for the company's latest smartphones strained available supply.
The new iPhone 6 goes on sale on Sept. 19 in the United States but the company began taking online orders on Thursday. While the larger 5.5-inch "Plus" models now display a wait time of up to a month, the 4.7-inch version remains available for delivery on Sept. 19, Apple's website showed. (http://bit.ly/1qNAOLK)
Verizon Wireless <VZ.N>, AT&T <T.N> and Sprint Corp <S.N>, also showed shipment delays of up to six weeks on their respective websites. Apple said the pace of orders has so far outstripped any of its previous iPhones.
“Response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible, with a record number of pre-orders overnight. Pre-orders are currently available online or through the Apple Store App,” spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.
Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design. The latest iPhones come with larger screens this time and some analysts had anticipated that production issues may keep a lid on initial runs.
Its suppliers had scrambled to get enough screens ready because the need to redesign a key component had disrupted panel production, supply chain sources told Reuters last month.
It was unclear whether the hiccup could limit the number of phones available to consumers, the sources said at the time. Apple declined to comment on supply chain issues.
In addition, Chinese customers may also have to wait until the year-end before they can buy the iPhone 6. Apple is yet to set a release date for China, the world's biggest smartphone market.
The company unveiled its latest iPhones along with a watch and a mobile payments service on Tuesday.
AT&T's chief executive of mobile and business, Ralph de la Vega, told investors at a conference in New York that iPhone 6 orders have so far surpassed orders last year and the year before.
"It is such a great thing to wake up in the morning to know that you have hundreds of thousands of orders already before you even have a cup of coffee," said the executive, who said he woke up at 3 a.m. when the wireless carrier began taking orders for the device.
(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee and Ankush Sharma in Bangalore, and Marina Lopes in Washington D.C.; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bernard Orr)