Cell C has a big shortage of iPhones

Cell C has been experiencing a shortage of iPhones this year, which means customers will find it difficult to purchase a new Apple device from the mobile network.

A Cell C contract customer recently told MyBroadband she was struggling to upgrade to an Apple iPhone, as multiple salespeople informed her they did not have stock.

She was unable to upgrade to an iPhone via the operator’s sales line and could not find an iPhone model on the online store either.

MyBroadband visited Cell C’s website and found that no Apple devices were available on contract or prepaid as of the week of 16 July.

The filter section for smartphone brands had no option available for Apple, while searching “Apple” or “iPhone” produced zero results.

Below are screenshots of the Cell C online store on Monday 13 July 2020.

Cell C iPhones

Cell C responds

Cell C confirmed to MyBroadband that it had experienced a limited supply of Apple iPhones since January 2020.

It blamed three main incidents for the shortages – the Chinese New Year, COVID-19 related supply challenges in China, and the lockdown restrictions in South Africa.

Certain products from Samsung, Huawei and LG have also been affected, but iPhones have been the most heavily impacted, Cell C stated.

The company said iPhones would be made available again once there was sufficient stock.

“Available stock is currently utilised for company-owned distribution channels as well as to service long-standing customers that are due for upgrades,” Cell C said.

Other operators

Many users noted that a limited number of iPhone models were available from other operators during previous lockdown levels.

We asked Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom about the availability of their Apple products.

Vodacom said it had stock of most Apple products, but confirmed there were constraints on the supply of a few models.

It said it was working with Apple to re-establish consistent supply to meet market demand.

MTN Executive for Corporate Affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan noted that despite production and supply interruptions at some of its suppliers and partners, it experienced no major stock shortages in its warehouse.

“Our approach to purchasing bulk devices from manufacturers way in advance has assisted in overcoming these challenges and we have a well-managed inventory process in place,” O’Sullivan said.

“We are working with manufacturers, including Apple, to secure timely delivery for the items that were constrained during level 5 national lockdown.”

Telkom said it only had low stock on the iPhone SE, which is scheduled to be resupplied on 25 July. Other iPhones were not in short supply, the operator said.

“We’ve been receiving stock based on our orders as well delivery schedule. We interact with OEMs on a weekly basis to make sure we get stock timeously,” Telkom said.

Now read: The best and worst mobile networks in South Africa during lockdown

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Cell C has a big shortage of iPhones