[GUIDE] Preparing to Purchase an iPhone on Launch Day
As if you hadn’t noticed, the rumors are swirling around the next iPhone. The current model (iPhone 5) is approaching its first birthday. Apple’s sales numbers, as reported this week, are down. These three factors can only point to one thing. It’s time for a new iPhone to make its appearance!
This year, signs are pointing to multiple phone models being announced and released in the coming months. The iMore forums are buzzing with the excitement about iOS 7, the next iPhone (iPhone 5s?) and a new “low cost” iPhone.
What will it be? When will it be announced? When can I get it? While the answers to these questions are still known only to Tim Cook and the management team at Apple, the Apple-centric blogs are busy with their “takes” on what we can expect. You are most likely aware that iOS 7 is in the beta stages now, and the not-so-iron-clad NDAs have been violated, ad nauseum. We know largely what iOS 7 will bring, but most Apple users are anxious to get their hands on it, as well as on the new hardware.
So, what’s the best approach to securing the next iteration of the iPhone the minute that it’s available? Typically, Apple will announce the new phone, specify a “pre-sale” date and then an actual release date. The “pre-sale” date is the day that you can log onto the Apple (or your wireless carrier’s) website and pre-order the new hardware. Over the past couple of release cycles, that date is usually a week ahead of the actual launch date (the date that you can walk into a store and walk out with your new phone in hand).
Pre-Order. The time-tested method over the past several years is to stay up late on “pre-sale” day and get your order in as soon as the cyber doors open. Typically the mayhem starts between 10:00 pm and midnight Pacific time on the specified day. Just fire up your favorite web browser, with credit card in hand, and point it at either Apple.com or your wireless carrier’s website. You have to be fast, you have to be patient, and you have to be flexible. Expect server crashes, server overloads, delays and eventually, sold out notices. If you’re fortunate, you will get a confirmation that your order has been placed, and you should receive your new phone delivered to your door by UPS or FedEx on launch day. You have to understand, though, that Apple limits the number of devices that it makes available for pre-sale.
But what if you aren’t able to participate in the pre-order launch day sellout? There are still options. Unfortunately, if you are bent on having your new iPhone on launch day, the solution will involve getting up early and standing in line. Where you go to stand in line will vary by where you live, and who provides your wireless service. Here are a few options:
The Apple Store. If you are fortunate enough to live in a city where Apple has opened a retail presence, this is probably your best bet. Since it’s an Apple product, it logically follows that the largest number of devices will be available here. But it’s true that the longest lines will also be at your friendly neighborhood Apple store.
My experience has always been great while standing in line at an Apple store on product launch day. You are surrounded by a lot of excited Apple fans, and it’s truly a party atmosphere. The store staff is friendly, and can often be found passing out granola bars, bottled water, and having as much fun as the customers. And when the store opens… well, it’s a magical experience.
Your Wireless Provider Store. This is the second best location, in my opinion, to pick up a new iPhone on launch day. The stores will get a limited number of devices, specific to their own brand. Do I really need to tell you that you will not find an AT&T compatible iPhone at the Verizon store? But again, based on location and general supply availability, these stores will have a more limited supply of devices than the Apple store. They will only have what Apple sends them – so they may not have all colors in all storage capacities. The lines may be long, and having more people in line than available stock is always a possibility.
Big Box Stores. Shopping for an iPhone on launch day at your local Best Buy, Target or Walmart can be a bit of a crap shoot. Since these stores are not specific to any particular carrier or technology, you may or may not find a compatible device for your carrier here. On the other hand, these stores are often overlooked, especially on launch day. Some of the larger stores may have lines forming early, and if that’s the case, they will probably sell out quickly.
Other Options. There are always reports of someone walking into a Radio Shack at 3 pm on launch day and getting lucky. But these kind of stores will have very limited supply, if any. As a last resort, it doesn’t hurt to check.
Last Resort. If all else fails, and there is no compatible new iPhone available to you on launch day, don’t despair. There is always the option of ordering one from any of the above sites and waiting for delivery. However, at this point in the game, you can expect to see a shipping date as much as 3-4 weeks in the future.
Good luck with your quest... and remember, it's just a phone.