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How to find an iPhone 5 (Update: Regional carriers, other countries get iPhone)

iPhone 5 white and black

everything iphone 5The September 12 announcement of the iPhone 5 was anything but shocking to the tech world, but that doesn’t mean we won’t all dash out to get one. That’s the crazy thing about Apple products: the information can leak days in advance, but the official announcement can put consumers in a trance until they wake up in line on launch day. There’s no stopping the horde of fruit phone frenzied zombies, so you may as well prepare yourself to join in.

Before you decide to jump head-first into the pool of iPhone 5 early adopters, make sure that you take a look at everything that’s out there. The market is full of worthy competitors, from the Galaxy S3 to the new Razrs, and even Apple’s own iPhone 4S. Who are we kidding, though? You want the iPhone 5. I mean, just look at the thing. If you’ve made up your mind and are already packing your tent to camp out at the Apple Store, make sure to arm yourself with this information.

Basics

The iPhone 5 will become available for pre-order online through the Apple Store on Friday, Sept. 14. The phone will officially be available on the following Friday, Sept. 21. Apple stores open at 8:00 a.m., so make sure you’ve got a fresh cup of coffee for the morning. The lowest price rung for the iPhone will be the 16GB model for $200, followed by the 32GB for $300, and the 64GB for $400. 

Pre-Order Details

Sprint customers should sprint to Sprint’s iPhone page to do their own pre-order. While the site will remain filled with old model information until the 14th, the service provider will start their own pre-order offer at 12:01 a.m. AT&T users can also get themselves geared up to keep hitting the refresh button come Friday, because they have a pre-order option available as well. The information is likely to live right after midnight on AT&T’s iPhone page. No word has come from Verizon about a Friday frenzy, but it’d be a safe bet for customers to bookmark the Verizon iPhone landing page there.

Update 9/14/2012 10:22am by Jeffrey VC: Apple’s website sold out of launch day iPhones at around 1 a.m. last night. It is currently offering phones with a ship date of “2 weeks,” meaning that those who pre-order may receive their iPhones a week after the Sept. 21 launch day. In-store pickup on 9/21 is also not being offered online anymore. As of this posting, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint’s pre-order sites are still offering 9/21/2012 delivery. 

Update 9/14/2012 2:43pm by Jeffrey VC: I checked the status of pre-orders on all sites. Sprint is still offering 9/21 delivery, Apple.com promises 2 weeks, Verizon is now promising 9/28 delivery, and AT&T says orders will arrive within 14-21 days. Demand is rumored to be higher than expected.

Update 9/14/2012: 5:47pm by Jeffrey VC: Those who pre-order on Apple.com will now receive orders within “2-3 weeks.”

Update 9/17/2012: 12:33pm by AJ Dellinger: AT&T is reporting that they hit a record number of sales with iPhone 5 over the weekend, making it the fastest-selling phone that the service provider has ever offered, which fits in with Apple’s narrative of 2 million units sold. According to the company’s press release, the handset is still available for pre-order on their website. Going through the process of purchasing the phone online still shows a 14-21 business day wait to ship. Similarly, Verizon’s pre-order process now shows a wait until October 5 for delivery.

Update 9/18/2012: 11:30am by AJ Dellinger: On a tip from Community Manager Jeremy Johnson, we looked into Radio Shack’s pre-order situation. The search also prompted some research into other retailers, so all retailer pre-order information is listed below. Thanks again to Jeremy!

Update 9/19/2012 11:05am by AJ Dellinger: Digital Trends’ Trevor Mogg reported earlier today that the wait for an iPhone 5 from Apple.com was now up to 3 to 4 weeks. A quick check of the major carriers show a 2-3 week delay. AT&T ranges 14 to 21 days for all models, Verizon promises an October 5 delivery, and Sprint has a 3 week delay for the 16GB model but just a 1 week wait for the 32GB or 64GB version. Retailers will vary based on location. For those hoping to get their hands on the day of releases, Natt Garun is reporting lines are already forming at the New York Apple store. With iOS 6 out today, people will get their first chance to play with the operating system that will come loaded on the new Apple handset. It may, assuming it’s well received, push those delivery estimates and lines back even further.

Update 10/2/2012 3:oopm by AJ Dellinger: A quick check of the Apple.com store reveals a 3-4 week wait for an iPhone 5. The shortage has gone global with the release in other countries. If you’re willing to try regional carriers or pre-paid contract options, you might be able to get ahold of the iPhone a little quicker. It’s likely to be a bit of a wait regardless across the board, though.

Pre-Ordering from Retailers

Delays galore are coming from Apple and mobile service providers that will keep early adopters from being day one users. Overwhelming interest in the iPhone 5 has made the most sought-after phone since the last iPhone a bit elusive. Luckily for consumers, there’s always another option. Major retailers will be getting stocks of the handsets as well.

Radio Shack confirmed that they would be offering pre-orders for September 21 delivery. The process for the Radio Shack pre-order requires you to actually go into the store according to the RadioShack Twitter account and was confirmed with a call to a local Radio Shack store. It appears the phone is available for all major carrier plans and reservations can be placed for a $50 deposit. Pre-orders are limited and availability may vary, but there were still some left at my local Shack store when I called.

Best Buy also is offering an in-store pre-order as well, though it appears many are reporting a wait from the big blue box store. As with most retailers, Best Buy stores will get a limited number of handsets shipped for release day. Calling my local Best Buy about the pre-order revealed a 7-14 day wait. This may vary at locations near you, so it very well could be worth a call or a visit. The phone can be purchased for all major carriers and will cost a $50 gift card purchase. You’ll receive an email with details on when your phone will be available, so just cross your fingers it says, “September 21.”

Target stores with a Target Mobile section are taking pre-orders for the September 21 release, though the amount available is limited. Target will be carrying the 16GB and 32GB in black or white, but only for the AT&T and Sprint networks. Call your local Target Mobile center–there are 1,500 across the US–and see if you can still get your iPhone for launch day.

Walmart may be the most notable retailer to offer a pre-order simply because they’re doing it for less. What else would one expect from Walmart? As we previously reported, the 16GB version of the iPhone 5 is available for $10 less than everywhere else, ringing up at $189.97. You’ll have to place your order in-store and put down a $25 deposit. This will land you a reservation card, which you can exchange for the phone you’re desiring on September 21–presuming your location still has it in stock. You’ll also get a $4.99 credit for a movie from VUDU.

Walmart’s partner, Sam’s Club, has their own offer on the iPhone 5 16GB model. That is to say, it’s the only model they’re offering. Call your local Sam’s Club and see if they have any still available for September 21 pick-up. Mine did, though it sounded like there were very few left. If your location is out, they will place you on a waiting list and inform you when your phone will be available for pick up. Expect about a two-week delay if they don’t have any available. A limited number will also be released in-store starting at 10a.m. on Friday September 21, so waiting overnight may prove fruitful. 

Pre-paid and regional carriers

One place that Apple is looking to make a splash where they haven’t previously is with regional carriers. The iPhone 5 began appearing on region-specific carriers as early as a week after the US launch, and in some cases has done so with a $50 discount. The LTE handset from Apple is available on Appalachian Wireless, nTelos, Cellcom, C Spire, and GCI, Bluegrass Cellular, Golden State Cellular, Next-Tech Wireless, Pioneer Wireless, and MTA Solutions. Cellcom, nTelos, and Appalachian offering the price break to entice customers. These discounts lower the price of a 16GB to $149, 32GB to $249, and 64GB to $349. It’s worth noting that the nTelos network is yet to launch it’s LTE network, so users will be functioning off of Sprint’s 3G network.

Pre-paid contract provider Cricket Communications, owned by Leap Wireless, also has the iPhone 5 available with their unique purchase plan. The 16GB model will run $499.99 for the handset and the monthly plan can be custom built to fit your needs. This means a bigger price tag up front, but a potentially better deal on the back end with smaller monthly costs.

Other countries with the iPhone 5

The initial September 21, 2012 launch for the iPhone 5 brought the sought-after phone to the United States and eight other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Since then, a total of 22 countries have got in on the action. The following countries are a part of the iPhone 5 family:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
It’s worth noting that all of these countries are currently experiencing stock shortages similar to those that US and global consumers had for September 21. If you’re thinking of trying to import a phone in some work around, expect a 3-4 week delay.

What to Expect when Pre-Ordering

If you decide to be one of the brave few (million) that decide to stay up to snag an early purchase of the iPhone 5, there are a few things you should prepare for. First of all, slow loading. These sites are built to manage a fair amount of traffic, but any event like this is sure to cause the servers to take a beating. If you have to refresh a few times, don’t be too shocked. Once you do get through, you should make sure that you’ve received email confirmation of your order. This will come in handy when you decide to pick up your phone from the local carrier of choice.

What to Expect In-Store

Buying an Apple product on the day of launch historically calls for a camping session the night before. There might not be s’mores in store, but there are no bears either, and you’ll be getting the ultimate Swiss Army Knife when you wake up in the morning. Needless to say, though, you should arrive as early as you possibly can to secure your spot in line. If you’re not committed to the cause and you didn’t pre-order, don’t bother. Wait for the madness to die down after the first few weeks so you can easily slip in and out of the store without running the risk of being squished or body-surfed to the back of the line. But if you want an iPhone on launch day and don’t want to pre-order, be prepared to get in line and wait there… for many hours.

Article originally published on 9/12/2012 and written by AJ Dellinger.