[Update] iPhone 14 release date 'change' is a surprise – but it could be clearer why

A screengrab of a launch event from Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

Update: A Tweet from Ming-Chi Kuo has given some better insight into why Apple might be moving the date up compared to what we expected.

For anyone following the iPhone 14 rumor saga over the last year, you'll have noticed a couple of things: the launch date has been the subject of speculation, and the predicted line-up was confirmed pretty early.

I've been covering these launches since nearly the very beginning of the iPhone's existence* and I thought I'd got pretty good at spotting the patterns, one of which is that the iPhone almost always launches on a Tuesday and then goes on sale in 10 days' time, on a Friday.

But which Tuesday, and which Friday? Well, looking back at the excellent iPhone 14 release date analysis by our own Alex Walker-Todd, it's clear that the parameters, based on previous years were set: launch between September 7-14, go on sale between September 16-24... which gave us the obvious dates of September 13 for launch, September 23 for on sale.

Other outlets had claimed earlier in the year that this wouldn't be the case, but I dismissed that. These dates made the most sense... until now.

Hugely-reputable journalist and analyst Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg, has said that his sources are stating that the Apple event to launch new iPhones (and the Apple Watch 8) this year will actually be on September 7, with retail staff being told to prep for a 'major release' on September 16.

Don't forget about a Wednesday iPhone

That's where I screwed up – if you read back the paragraph above, the iPhone almost always launches on a Tuesday, but not exclusively. Apple clearly avoids the iPhone launch happening on September 11 for obvious reasons, but it's not averse to going for a Wednesday launch date.

And if you peer deeper into the data, two things about the Wednesday launches emerge: they're either when the iPhone release date is earlier than usual, or to avoid the Tuesday launch being on September 11.

I sat and pondered why this would matter – surely, just stick with the Tuesday launch? Clearly, Apple considers 10 days the perfect amount of time for pre-order hype to build but not peter out, so why would it matter if a September 6 iPhone launch (which would be the earliest ever) came to be?

Well, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo came out with a useful theory on this: that Apple is going as early as it can to offset the chance of a global recession causing people to decide against buying a new iPhone.

It won't be a massive change to the amount of phones it can sell, but Apple will be banking on getting that big surge of day one buyers in as fertile a buying period as possible, if the above theory is to be believed.

And every day counts in retail. Apple still needs carriers and retailers to promote its devices, to market them to contract upgraders, and there's a wealth of other phones out there that are jostling for premium position in the carrier roster.

Make no mistake: the iPhone launch is a tentpole event for every carrier, as you can see in the Tweet above from UK network EE, but they will have been negotiating hard with Apple as to when the new phone lands.

Being able to save a day - or even a week - before they need to begin putting up signs for the iPhone 14 range would be valuable indeed – especially with the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max both likely to offer some real differentiation compared to previous models.

And don't forget there's a big player in the market this year, as Samsung is building up some big momentum for its foldable phones and pouring a lot of marketing dollars into promoting the new Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 – the former, in particular, looks to be extremely popular with younger demographics.

That could, in part, be influencing why Apple might be keen to move the launch of the iPhone 14 range up, to help slow that momentum and get anyone on the fence about which (expensive) phone to buy thinking about i-monikered handsets as much as possible.

It's all about the Friday iPhone release date

You're probably thinking 'why does a week matter? People can buy their new iPhones earlier – that's a good thing, right?'

Well, yes it is – especially if you've been holding onto an older phone for a while and are looking to make the jump to the new iPhone 14. 

However, many people are tied into contracts that don't make it easy to upgrade a week earlier, meaning that one less week (if it comes to pass) will likely be a source of soreness, as they're not able to be there on day one to grab the new device.

Even those on dedicated upgrade programs that allow you to get the new iPhone each year, like Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program or AT&T's Next Up, will likely need to pay earlier than expected to finish their 12 month payment cycle – so they're losing a week of benefit with this leaked change.

It won't be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but that initial hype of people queueing, posting online about getting their new device and the general sense of 'today is new iPhone day!' is a key part of Apple's marketing for its phone range, so anything that meddles with that could change the perceptions of how 'successful' the iPhone launch was.

*(I wasn't in the job for the first one, but you should watch it back if you haven't, doing so now with the knowledge that if any of those actions had been in the wrong order, the iPhone would have failed in front of the world's media). 

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.