SEOUL-- South Korea's mobile carriers said Friday their first preorder batch of U.S. tech giant Apple Inc.'s latest iPhone X smartphones were sold out in a few minutes after being launched here, apparently due to supply shortages.

No. 1 mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. said it sold the first batch of iPhone X phones in three minutes after starting preorders. The figure compares to the iPhone 7 released last year, which took 20 minutes to sell all of the initial volume.

The second batch of the iPhone X was also sold out in less than two minutes later in the morning.

SK Telecom said its inventory for the iPhone X was less than half of the iPhone 8 which hit local shelves earlier this month. The mobile carrier said the silver-color editions were sold out in around a minute.

KT Corp. said it received more than 20,000 orders in five minutes. LG Uplus Corp. also said the preorders for the iPhone X were two times higher than the iPhone 8 for the first 10 minutes.

"The initial inventories were already too low to meet the demand," an official from a mobile carrier said, adding the future supplies also remain uncertain.

Industry watchers estimate the number of iPhone X smartphones allocated for South Korea in preorders were around 100,000, hovering far below the over 200,000 units posted by the iPhone 8 smartphones.

The mobile carriers will continue to receive preorders, but the delivery is expected to be delayed considering supply shortages.

The price of the 64GB iPhone X stands at 1.36 million won (US$1,237), and that of the 256GB version is set at 1.55 million won. Local users will be provided options to choose between a discount of around 34,000 won to 122,000 won and a 25-percent cut in monthly pay plans.

Even considering the discounts, industry watchers said local prices are still far higher than the U.S., where the 64GB edition is available for $999.

Preorders for the iPhone 8 smartphones here stood at just 60-70 percent of demand for the iPhone 7 series. Industry watchers said the sluggish figure apparently due to many Apple fans waiting for the arrival of the iPhone X.

The 5.8-inch iPhone X is equipped with new features such as Face ID and an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display.

Source: Yonhap News Agency