We’ve been hearing anecdotal evidence over the last few days, but now some official word from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) itself: the iPhone 4S is proving to be a huge seller so far, with preorders for the device reaching an astounding one million units on a single day — almost double the record reached by its immediate predecessor, the iPhone 4.
Apple says that the sales set a new record for the most ever pre-orders for an Apple device. Previously, that accolade went to the iPhone 4, with a one-day total of 600,000.
Apart from the fact that this is the first upgrade to the iPhone over a year, the iPhone 4S has the added advantage of being available on more networks than the iPhone 4: specifically in the U.S. both Sprint (NYSE: S) and Verizon are offering the device from the word go.
Business Insider notes that in total, there will be 228 carriers at launch for the iPhone 4S, compared to 154 for the iPhone 4. That works out of 4,400 devices per carrier for the 4S, compared to 3,900 for the previous model — a sign of sales on the rise, if modestly. Some are selling more than others: AT&T (NYSE: T) has clocked up more than 200,000 devices in pre-orders.
The phone, which some critics slated when it was first unveiled for lacking any advance on the iPhone 4 in terms of exterior design, nevertheless features several new features inside, including a faster processing chip — the dual-core A5; an upgraded camera; better video; and a new voice-powered “assistant” in the form of Siri, as well as the updated iOS 5 (current iPhone owners will be able to download the new OS but will not be able to use the Siri service on pre-4S devices).
Apple will start selling the device in the U.S. and UK starting Friday, October 14, and will have rolled out the device to 22 more countries by the end of October. Those who buy directly from an Apple store can have their phones set up by Apple experts free of charge.
And for those who don’t? One observer, the analyst Ben Wood, pointed out on Twitter that we are seeing some rather contrasting approaches to pre-orders from UK carriers’ retail operations. Some are clearly not taking advantage of the wave of interest:
“Dramatically contrasting approach to iPhone 4S pre-orders in the UK this weekend. Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) slick ad vs O2 shambles,” he tweeted. Picture evidence here:
Although some expressed disappointment at the lack of an iPhone 5 announcement last week, in large part that was swept away by the bigger news that Steve Jobs had passed away the day after the launch. Samsung and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) even cancelled the debut of their own new Nexus device this week, citing Jobs as the reason for the delay.
The iPhone 4S, which itself will be available with three different storage options, will now also mean that Apple will be able to offer the market a range of iPhones at different price points, giving it its first real stab at targeting both low-end/later-adopting and high-end/early-adopter smartphone users.