Preorders began September 12 for Apple’s new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
James Martin/CNET

Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus preorders kicked off Saturday morning with a few glitches that have become typical of the company’s product launches.

Apple had said preorders for its new device could begin as soon as a minute past midnight, PT. But many avenues for preordering the company’s newest devices — including Apple’s online store — were unavailable for some users for nearly an hour after preorders were slated to begin. The issues mirrored past iPhone launches, including last year when eager shoppers couldn’t access the store for about two hours.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Cupertino, California, company on Wednesday announced the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, its newest smartphones, featuring faster chips, better cameras and new screen technology. The device starts at $199 under a two-year contract, and will hit stores September 25.

The new devices largely look identical to last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus but sport stronger aluminum bodies, faster processors and better glass displays. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus come in a new rose-gold option and incorporate 3D Touch to recognize different levels of pressure on the touchscreen. They also have new camera tech, including a better front-facing camera for selfies and a “Live Photos” feature that captures three seconds of motion before and after a picture is taken to display a sort of short video of the photo.

Having a successful iPhone launch is key to Apple’s continued success. The company’s iPad business continues to struggle, and its Apple Watch hasn’t yet become a major money maker. Apple now generates more than two-thirds of its revenue from its smartphone, which mean it’s vital to get customers interested in its newest iPhones.

The iPhone 6S has a high bar to cross for success. The iPhone 6, released in 2014, has become Apple’s best-selling device ever, impressing not only investors on Wall Street but customers who the company says are switching to its devices from competitors. Demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was high when preorders began on September 12, 2014. Within hours, all iPhone 6 Plus models were on a three- to four-week delivery delay, while most iPhone 6 models were pushed back to seven to 10 days.

Apple later announced record preorders of more than 4 million iPhones in the first 24 hours — double the number of iPhone 5 units it had sold in the first 24 hours of preorders two years before.

The Apple Store online didn’t load for many users when preorders were slated to start for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.
Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

Demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was so high when preorders began that Apple’s online store and various carriers couldn’t keep up. Outages plagued the Apple Store site for more than two hours after the iPhones became available for presale at midnight PT. Despite the outages, customers scooped up the devices at a rapid clip. And thousands of people lined up at Apple and carrier stores to buy the device a week after preorders began.

This time around, the Apple Store website again wouldn’t load for many users, but others accessing the store through Apple’s app had no problems. The major wireless carrier sites also had some issues. In typical Apple fashion, some models were backordered within minutes of the start of preorders. The rose gold iPhone 6S Plus appeared to be in particularly short supply.

Walter Piecyk, a technology analyst with BTIG, tweeted about 20 minutes after preorders began that AT&T’s site already showed October shipping times, but the Apple Store app still had launch-day deliveries available for some devices.

There could be a new wrinkle for customers this year, though. Apple last month redesigned its website to remove the standalone “Store” tab, instead integrating the option to buy its devices on the product information pages. At the time, Apple said in a statement that it “redesigned knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place.” As such, the company said it believed this new approach was “improved.”

Updated continuously until 1:02 a.m. PT with more details.

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iPhone 6S preorders begin with initial glitches