We’re still a couple of days away from delivery of the first iPhone X. But in the five days since Apple began accepting preorders, a number of breaks with tradition have some long-time observers scratching their heads.
The first anomaly began with preorders last Friday. The iPhone X is only available in the U.S. in conjunction with a carrier. Presumably, since one must still pay full price, these phones are unlocked. But the company doesn’t give you the option of simply buying an unlocked iPhone, which means you get a SIM card with the iPhone X, whether you want one or not.
That led to the second oddity, courtesy of one of Apple’s most critical retail partners, Best Buy. The retail giant did allow users to buy an unlocked iPhone without being linked to a carrier but charged an extra $100 for that option. Unurprisingly, users were pissed and let Best Buy hear about it on social media.
As a result, Best Buy apologized and said it was ending the unlocked option, according to Bloomberg. The company said it doesn’t make money on such purchases but rather on the contracts signed with carriers. In a blog post, Best Buy execs clearly felt they were getting dumped on for trying to do customers a favor:
“We tried something designed to offer choice but instead created confusion,” says the blog post. “We may try again at some point, only this time with better execution. In the meantime, we are still selling the iPhone X on the traditional installment billing plans at market price.”
Meanwhile, iPhone X reviews have started appearing. And not only is the mix of people who got review units odd, some of the more experienced reviewers only got their units 24 hours before a publishing embargo was lifted. That led to some apologetic (though generally positive) reviews in which the reviewer emphasized that they hadn’t had sufficient time to really test the phone.
“Because I’ve only had about 24 hours with the iPhone X, I’m in no position to write a review yet,” wrote Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber.
The odd review strategy prompted a story by the Wall Street Journal: “Apple departed from its traditional preview strategy for what it bills as its most important new iPhone in years, prioritizing early access to the iPhone X for YouTube personalities and celebrities over most technology columnists who traditionally review its new products.”
YouTube folks like Highsnobiety got a unit:
In another unusual move, Apple then issued a press release rounding up some of the most glowing reviews and even making a Hollywood poster-like graphic of the most favorable blurbs.
Of course, none of this will matter if Apple sells a gazillion units of the iPhone X. Analysts are betting that the huge demand and high price tag could generate record revenues for Apple in this current holiday quarter — if, that is, the company can make enough of them to satisfy demand. Current wait times are estimated at between five and six weeks.
With Apple scheduled to report earnings November 2, executives may be able to shed a bit more light on this shift in strategy.