Shopping for an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max? Here are tips for finding one.

A friend recently started shopping for a new iPhone, and she was on a deadline. She wanted to replace her 4-year-old iPhone XR with an iPhone 14 Pro — that would arrive before she hopped a plane for a holiday vacation in Spain.

Like many longtime iPhone owners, she prefers to buy her handset directly from Apple. But this time, when she went looking for an iPhone 14 Pro online or in the company’s stores, the cupboard was bare, at least until Dec. 22, well after her departure date.

Checking Apple’s site at this writing, a new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max won’t be delivered until Dec. 30. By the time you read this, it may take even longer.

While supplies of any hot, new gadget can be tight during the holiday shopping season, the severity is unusual for iPhones at this time of year. It’s so unusual that Apple issued a rare news release warning that disappointment was likely in your future.

“COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly facility located in Zhengzhou, China,” the company said in a Nov. 6 statement. “The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity. As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prioritizing the health and safety of the workers in our supply chain.”

The statement went on to say that demand remained high for the Pro models, and that “we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

The supply constraints may get worse after workers at Foxconn’s sprawling iPhone manufacturing facility in Zhengzhou, China, on Tuesday rioted over lockdown working conditions and delayed bonus payments.

And just last week, Best Buy’s chief executive warned that the 14 Pro line would be hard to find in that company’s big-box stores. More about this in a moment.

The problem, for the most part, doesn’t apply to the non-pro versions of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. They are the same sizes as the Pro and Pro Max, but without the advanced features that allow Apple to charge a $200 premium. (The 14 Pro starts at $999, the base 14 at $799. The 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099, the 14 Plus at $899.)

A quick check of Houston-area Apple stores shows that, not only are they readily available, but you can get one delivered in just a few hours rather than days or weeks. Reuters reported last month that the 14 Plus, in particular, is selling fewer units than Apple expected, causing the company to reduce the number of orders for that model.

So what can you do if you or a recipient of your largesse really wants an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max? Here are the suggestions I offered my friend so that she scored a 14 Pro.

• Check your cellular phone carrier. Apple may not have its Pro models in stock, but there’s a chance your wireless service will. My friend is a T-Mobile customer, and I suggested she look there first. Bingo! She was able to order a gold, 128-GB Pro on Nov. 15 that arrived a few days later, and she didn’t have to change her cell plan or sign a new contract.

Whether you can get an iPhone 14 Pro in time for Christmas giving (or getting) from T-Mobile depends on the color and storage size you choose. For example, the Deep Purple, 256-gigabyte Pro ships by Dec. 2. But the more traditional Space Black and Silver models will ship Dec. 26 to Jan 9.

Not all carriers have them available. A spot check at AT&T of different colors and configurations shows the Pro line won’t ship until after Christmas. At Verizon, the Deep Purple 14 Pro in 128-GB, 256-GB and 1-terabyte configurations is available immediately at this writing, and may be picked up in some of the company’s stores. But other colors are backordered and may not arrive in time for Christmas.

(Each year, Apple issues a Pro model in a unique color, and Deep Purple is it for 2022. It was reportedly in huge demand when the 14 Pro and Pro Max launched, something Apple likely anticipated, and manufactured more accordingly. That may explain why this color is often available when others aren’t.)

If you’ve been considering changing carriers, buying a 14 Pro may be an opportunity to do so. Some of the smaller carriers that sometimes have lower rates have 14 Pros. Mint Mobile – the cell provider partly owned by actor Ryan Reynolds – has the Pro and is offering bundles with a 50 percent discount on a 1-year service plan.

A few carriers are offering sign-up deals with iPhone 14 models, though it’s rare to find one with the Pro versions. Don’t expect to find many Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday deals on them, either.

• Big box stores. The CEO of Best Buy’s protestations to the contrary, you may be able to find a 14 Pro there. At this writing, the retailer’s website shows various configurations of the Pro shipping to arrive as early as Monday or Tuesday, and in some cases – depending on the carrier version – it may be available for immediate pickup in-store.

But forget MicroCenter, the other big-box gadgeteer in Houston, which is out of stock both for shipping and in-store, based on a search of its website.

• Amazon. The online giant is so out of iPhone 14 Pros that a search there brings up just cases and older models, such as the 13 Pro and Pro Max. Apple has its own branded outpost on Amazon, and clicking on the iPhone tab at this writing reveals a page that starts with the iPhone 13 line – no standard 14s or Pluses.

Again, I emphasize that this is a snapshot of the situation as I’m banging away on my keyboard. If you’re in the market, be persistent and keep looking – or be willing to drop back to the more-attainable non-pro models.

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