Apple apologises for iPhone 4 delays

People who pre-order a SIM-free iPhone 4 from Apple's online store will have to wait until after the official release date to pick it up. Plus, Tesco announces it will carry the handset

People making Apple Store pre-orders for the iPhone 4 now will not get their hands on the smartphone until more than a week after its official release date, due to "the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day", according to the company.

When the company's UK online store began taking pre-orders on Tuesday, the pick-up date was listed as 24 June. On Wednesday, the store showed a delivery date of 2 July for the SIM-free version of Apple's latest handset.

"Yesterday Apple and its carrier partners took pre-orders for more than 600,000 of Apple's new iPhone 4. It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions," the company said in a statement sent to ZDNet UK. "Many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration. We apologize to everyone who encountered difficulties."

The iPhone 4, introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier in June, is scheduled for official release on 24 June in the UK and other countries. Previous versions of the iPhone have sold very well. In July last year, AT&T broke sales records the first day the Apple iPhone 3GS went on sale.

In the US, the first round of pre-orders for the iPhone 4 sold out the first day, with sole carrier AT&T saying that Tuesday was the "busiest online sales day" in its history.

In the UK, mobile operators Vodafone, O2, Orange, 3 and T-Mobile have already said they will carry the smartphone.

These carriers have been joined by Tesco Mobile, which announced on Wednesday that it will begin offering the phone on its official release day. Details were not available on the Tesco Mobile site at the time of writing, and a spokesperson for the operator said tariffs would be posted within the next few days.