Apple: iPhone 6s, 6s Plus sales on pace to surpass last year's 10M in opening weekend

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) new iPhones are selling out fast, at least in terms of pre-orders for the devices. Apple said that it is on track to surpass the record-breaking opening weekend iPhone sales it had last year, when it sold 10 million units.

"Customer response to iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has been extremely positive and pre-orders this weekend were very strong around the world," Apple said in a statement. Pre-orders for Apple's new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus started at midnight on Saturday and the phones will start shipping on Sept. 25.

It's somewhat difficult to compare this year's initial sales run with last year's, according to BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk. "Last year, it started on a Thursday night at midnight. This year, because of a late Labor Day, is was Friday night," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" program. "So we don't know the comp is, whether they have to wait through the end of Monday to find out exactly what the actual number is going to be."

Apple has been able to carry momentum from last year's launch well into this year, posting strong sales that have outpaced growth in the wider smartphone market, especially in China. The question is whether Apple will continue that sales surge this year and how much growth it can produce in sales of the iPhone, which has become the company's most important and profitable product. Sales will also be tested this year by U.S. carriers' shift away from two-year contracts and subsidized smartphones and toward equipment installment plans and leasing. Apple is also introducing its own leasing program for the first time.

"As many customers noticed, the online demand for iPhone 6s Plus has been exceptionally strong and exceeded our own forecasts for the preorder period," Apple said. "We are working to catch up as quickly as we can, and we will have iPhone 6s Plus as well as iPhone 6s units available at Apple retail stores when they open next Friday."

On its U.S. website today, Apple said customers who want the iPhone 6s Plus face a three- to four-week wait if they pre-order now. Most variants of the iPhone 6s will ship on Sept. 25.

The new iPhone 6s has a 4.7-inch screen and 6s Plus sports a 5.5-inch display. The phones are largely similar to last year's models but do come with a new feature called 3D Touch that "senses force to enable intuitive new ways to access features and interact with content." The devices also sport Retina HD displays, 7000 series aluminum and 12-megapixel cameras. Importantly, the phones support fully 23 bands of LTE, including the 700 MHz band 12 that T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is using and Sprint's (NYSE: S) 2.5 GHz two-carrier carrier aggregation.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this CNBC article
- see these two separate Re/code articles

Special Report: Complete coverage: Apple iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

Related articles:
Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program should worry carriers for 1 big reason: it makes them less relevant
Apple's iPhone 6s, 6s Plus to support T-Mobile's 700 MHz band 12, Sprint's 2.5 GHz carrier aggregation and more
Apple counters carriers' EIP with iPhone Upgrade Program: new phone every year starting at $32/month
Apple removes cellular option from lower-end iPad Pro
Apple's iPhone 6S launch will put spotlight on leasing and EIP pricing -- and promotions
Apple sells more than 10M iPhone 6, 6 Plus units in opening weekend

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