Chinese consumers have pre-ordered millions of the new iPhone 13 across the country’s multiple e-commerce platforms, resulting in online traffic jams and viral social media discussions. Cupertino-based Apple last Friday opened pre-orders for its new iPhone line – the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max – and the launch has proved an instant hit with Chinese consumers. The new smartphones will start to be delivered in China on September 24. The number of pre-orders across multiple third-party e-commerce platforms was estimated by Chinese state media to have exceeded 5 million on Friday, with JD.com alone receiving more than 3 million pre-orders. Apple supplier Foxconn rushes to hire 200,000 more workers The huge influx of buyers to Apple’s official website in China has slowed it to a crawl. The hashtag #Apple’sWebsiteisDown was trending on microblogging site Weibo last week, with related posts amassing more than 460 million views. The first batch of iPhones was no longer available for purchase online as of Saturday, with new pre-orders now set to be delivered at a later date, starting the second week of October. “They [the new iPhones] are really gone in just seconds. I either can’t get into the website or if I get into the website by luck, it shows that they are sold out,” one commentator on Weibo wrote. Apple declined to comment on the pre-order volume in China. Analysts have said Apple’s cheaper iPhone 13 series will likely take further market share away from domestic tech giant Huawei Technologies Co and other local brands despite it being considered by many netizens as one of the weakest upgrades of the handset to date. Huawei has been struggling under the weight of US trade sanctions that have cut off its access to high-end chips. Ivan Lam, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, expects Apple’s shipments in China to jump 58.3 per cent in the fourth quarter from the third as buyers snap up the iPhone 13. Globally, Apple is expected to see a 51.6 per cent increase in shipments over the same period. “Because the [iPhone 13] prices are pretty competitive, we believe that there will be big growth in the numbers,” Lam said. Apple has priced iPhone 13 models lower than the iPhone 12 line. Prices for the new models in China start at 5,199 yuan (US$804) for the iPhone 13 Mini, 5,999 yuan for the iPhone 13 and 7,999 yuan for the iPhone 13 Pro. That makes these devices about 300 to 800 yuan cheaper than the corresponding models in the iPhone 12 line. Apple’s strong iPhone13 launch in China is consistent with its strong momentum in other markets. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities wrote in a report that he expects 16 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of iPhones shipped in 2022. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said that iPhone 13 pre-orders were “off to a promising start” with “strong early demand” and noted that lead times – the gap between placing an order and taking delivery – for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max were the second longest in the past five years. Huberty said that the iPhone 13 mini had a lead time of only 3.1 days and the standard iPhone 13 faced no delays, indicating they are less popular than the bigger models.