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Apple: iPhone 6 tops 4 million in pre-orders as demand outpaces supply

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch and two new iPhones at an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif. Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus topped 4 million in pre-orders in the first 24 hours, as early demand for the smartphones outstrips supply.

Deliveries will start at the end of this week, when the devices officially go on sale, with many not scheduled until next month, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement Monday. Apple said there will be devices in stock in stores on Sept. 19 and encouraged customers to arrive early or order online for in-store pickup.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is counting on the new devices to usher in demand for other products he introduced last week, from the iPhone-compatible Apple Watch to the credit card- substituting Apple Pay service. The company had indicated that the new smartphones would take as many as four weeks to ship.

"We are thrilled customers love them as much as we do," Cook said in Monday's statement.

The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch one, while the previous iPhones have a 4-inch screen. The iPhone 6 costs $199 to $399 with a two-year contract, while the 6 Plus is priced at $299 to $499. The devices will come in silver, gold and space gray.

This isn't the first time Apple and phone carriers have seen iPhone models delayed well before they were available in stores. In 2012, the iPhone 5 was delayed for shipment by a week after a rush of orders, and in 2011 the iPhone 4S sold out at AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint Nextel only five days after pre-orders began.

The iPhone remains the most important piece of Apple's business. The handset accounted for about half of Apple's $171 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, and with sales of the iPad slowing, the company needs to keep the iPhone a blockbuster to maintain growth.

The handsets will also be available in a limited set of markets â?? including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Britain â?? on Sept. 19, Apple said. The devices will be available in another 20 countries on Sept. 26.

China, one of Apple's biggest markets, won't get the new devices at first, though the company said it plans to have the devices in 150 countries by the end of the year.

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