In fact, the first wave of orders are so poor that Kuo claims Apple is already considering the possibility of cutting its order numbers of the handsets. This could be particularly damaging as these two devices are currently scheduled to make up around 45% of the iPhone 14 lineup’s shipments.
"Apple's product segmentation strategy for standard models fails this year," Kuo writes.
Kuo also states that currently the pre-order numbers for the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are worse than the third-generation iPhone SE and most-damagingly the iPhone 13 mini. The latter is significant because the trimmed-down iPhone 13 was such a sluggish seller that Apple opted to discontinue the mini model for the iPhone 14 range and instead created a new Plus variant.
Conversely, pre-order numbers for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max appear to be stronger. Kuo suggests the figures for the most-premium members of the iPhone 14 family are “neutral” and “good” respectively, and about in line with the numbers for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The current iPhone 14 preorder wait times would also suggest that the Pro models are more popular with the Apple Store estimating a delivery date of mid to late October for both models.
Why is the iPhone 14 Plus already underperforming?
On paper the iPhone 14 Plus might seem a reasonably compelling smartphone, it packs all the same improvements as the standard model but with the larger profile of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, it appears just like with the iPhone 13 mini before it, customers may not be interested in a differently-sized version of the standard Apple flagship smartphone.
Perhaps the iPhone 14 Plus is struggling to appeal due to its $899 price tag, which is a $100 increase compared to the standard iPhone 14. Or maybe, it’s predominantly Pro users who want a larger display, and the type of buyer who opts for a standard iPhone would rather a device that more comfortably fits into pockets and small bags.
It should also be acknowledged that, broadly speaking, early adopters typically want the most premium models available. After all, the people invested enough in the Apple ecosystem to upgrade their iPhone the second a new lineup is released tend to be the most serious users. It's not unreasonable to assume the majority of the people looking to buy a new iPhone this month will want the extra power of the Pro.
Therefore, it's entirely possible that the iPhone 14 Plus will debut to soft sales, but over time will see its popularity grow as more casual buyers upgrades. Of course, there is also a chance that the iPhone 14 Plus just isn’t a handset with mass appeal. Only time will tell.
We’ll have to see how Apple’s Plus experiment pans out over the next few months, but the early signs could suggest that a Plus variant for the iPhone 15 isn't guaranteed.