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Reports detailing the first shipment of Apple's $999 iPhone X claim there will be even fewer devices to go around than originally expected. According to a Digitimes report that references news from the Chinese outlet Xinhuanet.com, Apple's manufacturer Foxconn recently began shipping the first round of iPhone Xs to the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates, but that first batch only included 46,500 devices.
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The iPhone X's initial shipment is much lower than previous iPhone models, and some reports suggest the holdup is due to the new TrueDepth camera. This technology is responsible for new features in the iPhone X including FaceID and animoji. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the TrueDepth camera's structure makes it "far more complex" than cameras of competing devices, making it harder for Foxconn to mass-produce the iPhone X. Nikkei Asian Review speculates the biggest production challenges surround the dot projector, which projects more than 30,000 dots on the user's face to create a depth map to enable FaceID, animoji, and other features.
Foxconn has reportedly increased iPhone X production to 400,000 units per week, a big jump from its previous supply of 100,000 units per week. However, it's unlikely that Foxconn will be able to keep up with demand for the new iPhone. The new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus handsets are already available for purchase and have been selling modestly, but it's likely that many customers willing to pay $999 or more for the unique iPhone X are holding out.
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Analysts have had to lower their iPhone X shipment projections because of these production issues. Currently, the projection stands between 30 and 35 million units shipped before year's end. Production issues holding up shipments combined with the millions of customers waiting to upgrade to the iPhone X could mean months of delayed orders extending into 2018. Preorders for the iPhone X are slated to begin on October 27 with device deliveries starting November 3.