UPDATE: As predicted, Apple sold out of the iPhone 5 in record time. However, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all say they can still deliver pre-ordered iPhone 5 units on Launch Day.
Apple's next flagship smartphone is going to be up for pre-order tomorrow. We have some tips for those who want to be among the first to get their hands on the iPhone 5.
A bit of effort is going to be required -- shoppers won't be able to just wander by an Apple store on launch day and pick up a device. Not only are experts predicting that demand is going to be very high, demand is expected to outstrip supply for weeks or even months.
Much of the reason for this can be credited to the new type of screen used in the iPhone 5. In-cell technology will make the display thinner and better looking, but it's new. So new that production of screens is not yet fast enough to meet pent-up consumer demand for Apple's latest model.
Set Your Clock
Apple is going to start taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 tomorrow. However, it has yet to say exactly what time. Sprint appears to clarify this, stating that it will begin taking orders at 12:01 am Pacific time (3:01 am Eastern). Apple will likely do the same.
When talking about a device that is going to sell out quickly, the best time to pre-order is going to be "as soon as possible". For many people, that means the middle of the night tonight.
And it's generally safer to order from Apple itself, rather than from one of the carriers. It isn't common, but in the past carriers have over-promised and people who were told they would get a device on the first day have found out later that they would have to wait.
Don't procrastinate. Based on previous iPhone launches, it's quite possible Apple will be out of all the units it has stocked up for Launch Day before noon on Friday. It might even happen before 9 am.
This model is launching in nine countries on Sept. 21, which means many millions of people will be getting their first crack at it all at the same time. Some are predicting Apple will sell as many as 6 million units the first weekend this product is available.
Should You Wait?
Not everyone needs to order an iPhone 5 the minute it becomes available, as there is at least one drawback to doing this: you're not going to be able to read any in-depth reviews of the smartphone before committing to it.
Apple says it has created a device that offers good battery life -- better than the iPhone 4S. At the same time, though, the size of the display has been increased and 4G LTE has been added, two features that will put extra drain on the battery.
How to handle this comes down to a simple question: do you trust Apple? Do you believe that this phone will be good for up to 8 hours of web browsing on LTE, as the company promises it will? If you do, then you should go ahead and pre-order. If you would prefer an independent source to confirm this before you put your money down, you'd better wait.
Just be aware, if you don't put in a pre-order before the reviews start coming out then you might not get your iPhone 5 until mid-October or even later.
All of this, of course, assumes that Samsung won't succeed in blocking the release of Apple's next smartphone.