T-Mobile, Sprint Say Orders for iPhone 7 Surging Past Previous Models

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T-Mobile and Sprint have received almost four times as many orders for Apple's iPhone 7 than previous iPhone models, a sign the device may be well received and the two carriers' new unlimited data plans may be a hit.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, T-Mobile's Chief Executive Officer John Legere said the iPhone 7 pre-order period was the biggest in the company's history, and Sprint's Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said orders were almost four times higher than a year earlier.

The early enthusiasm for the iPhone 7 is good news for Apple, after two quarters of declining sales for its flagship device. T-Mobile's comments are among the first glimpses of demand for the latest iteration of the iPhone, which was redesigned without a headphone jack and has an improved camera. The carriers' reports are being watched closely because Apple has said it won't disclose weekend sales number for the first time.

The announcements "have refreshed the excitement around Apple products," said Amy Yong, an analyst with Macquarie Capital USA. "It shows you that the user is totally loyal to Apple."

The numbers suggest that after the pace of upgrades slowed in the first half of the year, more people are trading up.

"Everyone was assuming that the upgrade rate was going to be lower than the iPhone 6," Ms. Yong said. "What we saw from T-Mobile and Sprint shows that the upgrade rates should be on par with the 6."

In preparation for the iPhone 7 arrival, T-Mobile and Sprint introduced unlimited data plans. T-Mobile's offer starts at $70 a month for one user and as low as $160 for a family of four during a promotional period. Sprint's unlimited plan starts at $60 a month and $160 for families. The new offers underscore a push to sign on families with kids that watch a lot of videos on Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook.

The arrival of a new iPhone is also a key time for carriers to get people thinking about switching service.

"When you have an iconic launch, it gives the consumer a reason to shop. When consumers shop, they make the decision to switch carriers, always a good moment for T-Mobile and Sprint," Ms. Yong said.

Verizon and AT&T representatives didn't immediately have a comment.

-- Bloomberg News

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