How do I make a Genius Bar appointment? How can I buy products from the Apple Store online? Where's my closest Apple Store? What's going on with the flagship Regent Street Apple Store?

Want to buy a new Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or iPod? There are a number of ways. Here we will share how to buy Apple products at Apple's online store, at an Apple Store, or from an Apple Reseller. We'll also look at how to arrange to return a faulty Apple product or get a broken Mac or iPhone fixed at the Genius Bar; and we discuss the latest redesigns and new features at Apple's flagship stores in London and San Francisco.

You might also be interested in: How to get a job working at Apple  | How to get a job as an Apple Store Genius | How to book an Apple Store appointment | How to get an education discount at Apple

What's going on with the Regent Street Apple Store?

Apple's very first UK store, which opened in 2004, has undergone a refit. The redesign was carried out Foster & Partners, the architects behind the Gherkin (and the architects that Apple is using to design its new Campus). The redesign was overseen by Apple's chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive.

"The front section of the mezzanine will be removed, while a double height entrance will be constructed to allow more natural light in the store, thereby improving the 'customer journey'," reports The Evening Standard. 

The Apple logos from the front of the building are to be removed in an attempt to "Assist with natural light penetrating the retail floor," according to a filing with Westminster. The main glass staircase is also to be removed and replaced with “two new dramatic staircases (to) draw the visitors up to the refurbished mezzanine level”, states the ES report. However, there's not else in the way of rumours as, according to a worker in the basement store, most staff members are "not allowed to see upstairs" until works are completely finished. 

Visiting the store for the iPhone 6s launch, Apple's head of retail Angela Ahrendts said: "We’re just piloting some things, and I think the overarching thing is I think you can expect the stores to become hopefully a little calmer, but yet a little more dynamic, and maybe slightly more aligned to the same feeling you get when you go into our products."

Customers who head to the Regent Street store any time soon will be taken to the basement of the store where the company has set up a temporary store in true Apple fashion. But how long will these temporary measures be in place? While Apple gave no official indication as to how long the work is due to take, but the company has been given permission to run the temporary store in the basement for up to three years.

And the Union Square Apple Store in San Francisco?

Apple has given its Union Square store a major refit too, and this contains a number of new architectural elements and features that we think will spread to other flagship locations around the world.

Genius Grove: Apple has moved the Genius Bar away from the desks and under the trees (it's still indoors, though) and given it an even more pretentious name. It looks rather lovely, though, and seems like a far more pleasant way of getting your Apple products fixed.

The Plaza: A really nice idea, this. Apple has adopted a public or semi-public area next to the store where Wi-Fi will be laid on and seating will be available 24 hours a day, primarily for those waiting for friends buying Apple products but theoretically for the community at large. There will be public gigs from time to time. We're interested to see exactly how public this space remains - true public space has dwindled in the US over the past decade or so - but early impressions suggest it will be pleasingly relaxed.

Try before you buy: There's an area of the store for iPhone owners to try cases for size, selecting from a large selection on a dedicated wall.

The Forum: A rebanding of the educational workshop area.

The Boardroom: A rebranding for the area where business customers are dealt with.

It's an intriguing development, showing that Apple is constantly thinking about the way it presents itself to the public. Our colleague Susie has written about the new San Francisco store on Macworld US.

Shop at the Apple online store

It is easy to buy a brand-new Mac, iPad or iPhone from Apple. The simplest way is to got to Apple’s online store and make your purchase there. At Apple.com/ukstore you will find every current Mac, iPad and iPhone, and lots of accessories.

The store is split into sections for: Mac, iPhone, Watch, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, and Accessories.

The latter category includes lots of gadgets sold by Apple that you can use with your new Apple product, from headphones and cables, to connected home devices and displays, mice and keyboards. The accessories section includes lots of products from manufacturers other than Apple.

Read: i5 or i7? Haswell or Broadwell? What is turbo boost? Here's how to choose the best processor for your Mac

Buying a Mac on the Apple Online Store

Buying a Mac on Apple’s online store is really easy if you know what you are looking for - and if you don’t know what you are looking for, there is lots of information on Apple’s website to help you choose.

If you are planning to buy a MacBook Air, click on MacBook Air in the menu at the top of the page. The next page you see will show you the four standard MacBook Air models you can buy currently. You’ll see the main specs for each model listed, however there are further options to create the perfect Mac for you on the next page.

Find the Mac that most closely matches the one you want, and click Select. Now you will see various configuration options, including extra RAM memory (we tend to recommend that you buy more RAM if you can afford to as it will future proof your Mac). You can also add other products to the order, including Apple’s SuperDrive if you think you need a CD/DVD drive with your Mac.

Once you have configured the Mac you want, click on Add to Basket. You can then review what you have bought, and when you are ready click on Check Out.

When you get to the check out you have the option to apply for a payment plan that will allow you to split payments over up to 24 months.

Before you arrive at the Checkout you will need to sign in using your Apple ID and password. If you don’t have an Apple ID you can proceed as a guest. However, if you frequently make purchases from Apple you will find it easier to log in to your account as all your payment and delivery details will be automatically filled in.

At this stage you will be able to see Delivery Dates and Options, or choose a pickup location – you search with your postcode and will see you can pick up from various newsagents and supermarkets nearby.

You can also choose to press the Chat Now button if there is anything you are unsure about.

You will get free standard delivery if you order costs more than £50. When your item is dispatched you will receive a Dispatch Notification email and or text message, you can also visit the online Order Status to view the most up-to-date status or your order.

Buying an iPhone at the Apple online store

It's also easy to buy an iPhone from Apple’s Online Store, and many people choose to do this if they want to buy an iPhone outright, rather than sign up for a contract with their mobile network.

Go to the Apple Online Store and click Shop Phone and you can choose from the various iPhones on offer.

If, for example you were buying the iPhone 6 you would click here and make various choices: 4.7in or 5.5in; colour; storage; and if you don’t already have a contract with a mobile phone network you can choose one of the pay as you go packs on offer from Three, O2 or EE. If you do already have a contact that you are happy with then you can choose to buy your iPhone SIM-free.

When you are ready to go to the Checkout just click Select at the bottom of the page, and then Add to Basket in the summary Section.

Buying an iPad, Apple TV or Apple Watch at the Apple online store

You can follow the instructions above to buy any Apple product on the Apple online store.

Apple online store closed/not working

From time to time when you visit Apple's online store you will find that it is offline. This is what usually happens just before Apple announces a new product, although some times we all get excited and then it turns out Apple has done nothing of note, perhaps only tweaking something in the back end.

If the Apple Store is down when you visit chances are it may be back online in a few hours. When there is a new product the site usually goes down in the morning and is back on around lunchtime in the UK, unless it happens to be down during an Apple Keynote, which tends to happen in the early evening. In that case we would expect the store to be offline from about 6pm to 8pm.

Apple Store locations

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to try the product out, you could walk into the Apple Store on your high street or in your closest shopping mall. Not sure where your closest Apple Store is located? Apple has stores all over the country, 39 in total, and you can look for your local store on Apple’s website here.

There are Apple Stores in the following locations:

Apple's flagship London stores can be found at Regent Street and Covent Garden, you’ll also find Apple Stores in major shopping malls including Bluewater, Lakeside, Bullring, Trafford Centre, Manchester Arndale, Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City.  

Apple retail UK: How to reserve an iPhone

When Apple first launches a new iPhone the stocks are very limited, for that reason it is sometimes necessary to reserve your iPhone for in store pick up.

The alternative would be having the new iPhone sent to you at home, but collecting it in store gives you the opportunity to use Apple’s expertise to transfer the data from your existing phone to the new one – especially handy if you are moving from a non-Apple phone to the iPhone.

Apple will set up the iPhone for you, transfer contacts from your old device, set up your email and get you started with iCloud. Apple will also help you browse and download apps from the App Store.

More information here.

Apple UK genius bar

Another reason to go to the Apple Store is if you wish to visit the Genius Bar.

The Genius Bar is the place to go if you need your Apple hardware repaired. Apple’s Geniuses may also be able to help you with software issues.

To arrange an appointment with an Apple Store Genius visit the Apple Support page and  choose the product that is causing you problems. You will need to answer a number of questions to drill down what the exact issue is, so that Apple can find the best way to help you. For example, when our MacBook Air wasn’t charging we went through the following choices: Mac > Mac notebooks > Startup or Power > Power adapter not working as expected. We were given checks we could run at home that could fix the problem, and the option to Continue, at which point we were given the option to: talk to Apple Support now; Schedule a Call; Call Apple Support later; Chat; Take in for Service; or Visit the Genius Bar. We opted for the Genius Bar.

To arrange your visit you need to enter your postcode to search for the closest Apple Store to you, you can then choose the store which is more appropriate, and, if they have reservations available, you can make an appointment. You may have to try a few Apple Stores before you find one with the necessary expertise for your particular problem.

Read more: How to get an Apple Store appointment

Apple Support

You can also get help from Apple by calling the customer services number: 0844 209 0611. But there are a number of other ways to get support via the website as outlined above. For more information visit this page on Apple’s site.

Apple Store iPhone repair

If you have broken your iPhone screen you may choose to go to the Apple Store to pay for Apple to fix it.

You can make an appointment with a Genius at the Apple Store to service your iPhone. The cost of the repair will depend on the iPhone model and whether you have AppleCare coverage. It may cost more if the phone is out of it’s one year warranty period.

If you are the kind of person who frequently breaks your gadgets it might be worth investing in AppleCare+ which covers two incidents of accidental damage, although you will still have to pay an excess fee.  

Alternatively you can send your iPhone away to Apple to be fixed, but it will take longer than going to an Apple Store, where you will get your iPhone back the same day.

Here's everything you need to know about getting a broken iPhone fixed: Will Apple replace my broken iPhone?

Apple refurbished store

Unfortunately, as a rule Macs are not cheap, but if you are looking for a bargain you can also pick up a Mac, iPad or iPhone second-hand from Apple. It’s possible to buy refurbished Apple Macs, iPads, and other Apple products, from a special section of the online store. Go to apple.com/ukstore and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will see a link to Refurbished & Clearance.

Refurbished Macs and iPads are likely to be brand new but returned models (if it is from a previous year) or reconditioned current models. A reconditioned Mac could be an ex-demonstration model used during Apple teaching programmes, or a unit sold to a customer who subsequently decided to return it. The returned unit may have been faulty (and fixed) or may simply have been returned under the standard sale-and-returns procedure – Apple allows any customer to return a Mac bought from the Apple Store within 14 days for a refund as part of its standard returns policy.

The important thing to note is that Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are not discernibly different from new ones bought direct from the Apple Store. All the Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are cleaned, checked, tested and visually indistinguishable from brand-new models.

The only noticeable difference in our experience is that an Apple refurb Mac will be packaged in a brown box rather than the white retail box they normally arrive in. Aside from that, we have yet to pick up a Mac from the Refurb Store and find it wanting.

The price for reconditioned Macs changes frequently but is typically 10 to 20 percent less than the original price. With Macs commanding a high retail price, this reduction can represent quite a difference. For example, you can find a 2014 (that’s the current generation) 1.4GHz iMac on the Refurb Store for £759 – a £140 saving on the £899 you’d pay for the exact same model in the Apple Store. There are even bigger savings to be made on older models. You can also find refurbished iPads on the store, but Apple doesn’t resell second-hand iPhones.

Here's how to get a bargain from Apple.

See also: How to get an education discount from Apple

Apple resellers

You may also be able to get a deal on a new Mac by picking up one from your local Apple reseller, such as John Lewis and PC World, or Apple premium resellers like iStore, Stormfront, Solutions Inc, Western Computers and KRCS. They do have sales, and although Apple bargains are rare, they do come along occasionally.

However, you should beware that because Apple is strict with pricing and the margin that third-party retailers can make, it is rare that you will find a genuine bargain when buying a new Apple product from someone other than Apple. You should always first visit Apple’s online store to find out what is on offer from the mothership, and make sure that if you are buying an outdated model you are doing so knowingly. Copy down the specification and product code of the model you want, and use that in your search. If you know what to look for you could grab a bargain – just make sure you aren’t buying last year’s model while being sold the idea of this year’s.

Apple's warranty and returns

One of the benefits of buying from Apple is its warranty and returns procedure, even for refurbished products. Apple states: "Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad or Apple TV up for sale in special deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it’s up to Apple’s tough quality standards."

More importantly, a reconditioned Mac comes with the same one-year warranty (extendable to three years with AppleCare protection). You also get the same sales and return procedure with Apple, and can return a Mac bought from the Refurb Store within 14 days if you're not happy with it.

Read more: How to fix a frozen Mac | How to fix a Mac that won't shut down | How to fix a Mac that won't start up

Buying Apple products elsewhere

The key thing, as always, is to know exactly what you want, and exactly what you are getting, especially if you are buying from a private seller. Get it all in writing, and if at all possible view the device you are buying, and use it, before you purchase. Always use a credit card to make expensive purchases, or a secure payment service such as PayPal. This will make it much easier to chase up if there is a problem. And remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is: you really want to see proof of purchase before you buy a second-hand Mac to ensure it hasn’t been stolen.

We would also recommend checking what we have for sale in the Buy/Sell area of Macworld UK, not least because we know it is a risk-free way of buying second hand. We buy the device and check it, and then you buy from us, so there is no risk of getting stiffed by someone dodgy. Everything is thoroughly checked out with the Mac, MacBook or iMac, and if anything goes wrong it is on us to rectify the issue. (It's also a great, simple way of selling your old Apple kit, by the way.)