How to get a new iPhone on launch day: queuing tips
Apple will keep a supply back from the pre-orders specifically for in-store shoppers. If you bring your queueing A game, you may still manage to buy a brand new iPhone.
How to find the shortest queues?
The more remote the shop, the smaller its queues will be, and it's worth thinking outside the box when you decide where to queue up - don't simply assume that your local store is the best choice. On the other hand, smaller shops are likely to have lower supplies, so it's swings and roundabouts, really. (There's more of a party vibe at the big flagship stores, and that's where the reporters and photographers will turn up, if those things influence your decision.)
We would definitely consider picking a third-party phone provider rather than an Apple Store, since we've had far more lucks with these in previous launches.
But get in touch with your chosen store and ask them about anticipated supply and demand (take it with a pinch of salt, since they'll obviously want your business, but many store owners will be honest if they know they're not going to have anywhere near enough handsets) and when they'll open their doors. We expect most to follow Apple's example and plump for 8am, but it's worth checking
Get there early (obviously)
The company recommends that you get there early, and you should expect queues to start forming the day before or even earlier, particularly at the larger stores. We know that at least one shopper started queueing as early as Wednesday.
If you're planning to queue overnight, check that this is actually possible: some stores inside larger shopping centres will be inaccessible until morning.
Bring food and drink...
The coffee shops and fast-food eateries around Apple Stores quite often dish out free snacks to tired, famished queuers, in order to get a bit of publicity and goodwill; Apple staff themselves may get involved with this. And you should keep an eye out for anything going free.
But don't depend on this: iPhone launches in recent years have been low-key, and while the new iPhone should be much more of a hyped-up event nobody really knows what to expect.
Also, free doughnuts are not very good for you, so some sensible snacks and bottles of water are a good idea.
...and all-weather clothes, shelter and seats
Check the weather forecast, and then assume it's wrong and bring clothes and shelter for every eventuality: waterproofs, fleeces, spare clothes for if you get rained on or smelly, a sleeping bag, a folding chair or something else to sit on so you're not on bare concrete. If you're queueing overnight, remember that it gets ridiculously cold.
Bring a queueing buddy...
Having a friend there is useful for saving your place when you go for a wee, and for safety.
...but talk to the people around you in the queue
Since you're going to be spending a lot of time standing next to them. And iPhone launches can sometimes be lovely occasions and the start of friendships; maybe they will be your queueing buddy next time.
Don't be disappointed, however, if your neighbours aren't into the whole thing at all. Some of the queuers will be getting paid to be there by other people.
Queuing is boring
It really is. Bring an extra battery pack for your iPhone, or a nice book. Music is good too, but try to be aware of the world around you: look out for muggers and traffic.
Pick a model in advance
It's a good idea to decide in advance exactly which model you want to order. If you're queueing at an Apple Store the staff are likely to run down the queue slightly ahead of opening and find out what people want so they can give an estimate of whether you'll be lucky.
Settle on a colour, and think about how much storage you need. In the excitement of an iPhone launch day it's easy to get carried away and upsold to a model you can't really afford.
(Experienced iPhone buyers recommend having a 'backup choice' to fall back on if things don't work out with the first. Remember that the time to think about whether you're prepared to make the sacrifice - managing with less storage, paying a little more - is now, not when you're placing your order.)
The Space Grey colour finish with the lower storage option (64GB) will almost certainly be the most popular model.
Be ready to pay
This is a big purchase, and you should check your budget - and establish exactly how much you can afford to spend on this item - now, not while you're in the shop.
It's a good idea to get in touch with your credit card company today and warn them of your plan. If they know you're about to spend a large amount of money they can make sure the payment isn't declined in the heat of the moment.
Make sure you've got the right card and payment details ready so you don't get caught out at the moment of truth!