Retina iPad mini backorders at major US carriers hints at ongoing supply shortage

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The nation's wireless carriers have yet to see steady shipments of Apple's cellular-enabled iPad mini with Retina display, with three of the "big four" telecoms all backordered for weeks as the holiday shopping season draws closer.

According to a report from CNET, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all seeing estimated ship dates slip to at least December, though Apple's own supply for Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad minis continues to improve.

The shortage suggests supplies are still constrained for the cellular 4G version of Apple's high-resolution 7.9-inch tablet, as Verizon recently pushed back shipping estimates to Dec. 2. Previously, the nation's largest carrier was quoting a target date of Nov. 25, but a spokesperson is now unable to say when the device will hit store shelves.

As for AT&T, the company's website says all models of the Retina iPad mini will ship in 21 to 28 business days. T-Mobile, too, is back-ordered for an estimated 6 to 8 weeks.

Although cell carriers may not be getting adequate supply of the hot-selling mini, Apple has been bolstering its stock for customers, who now have to wait 5 to 10 days for the unit to ship. This is a major improvement from launch day, when even the first orders showed wait times of a few days. At the time, Wi-Fi + Cellular models showed 5- to 10-day ship-by times, which later fell to weeks.

In a note to investors, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple's manufacturers will reach mass production levels sufficient early next year, with shipments expected to grow 102 percent over the next quarter.

Those looking to get their hands on a Retina iPad mini as soon as possible can check's unofficial iPad mini availability notifier, which offers a snapshot of brick-and-mortar Apple Stores that have the unit in stock for pick-up.