There’s still one way to get an iPhone X on launch day – waiting in line. Apple says there will be iPhone X models available for walk-in purchases, but if pre-orders are any indication, supplies are going to be tight. Stores are opening starting at 8:00 a.m. local time for iPhone X sales.
If you’re planning to try for an iPhone X this Friday, make sure to check out these tips to maximize your chances of success.
Pick Your Store
Strategically choosing where you’re going to wait in line for an iPhone X is the most important part of the process. If you’re in a more remote area without a lot of options this isn’t up for debate, but in urban areas where there are a range of Apple Stores, carrier stores, and big box retailers to choose from, it takes a little more thought.
Apple Stores are going to have the most available iPhone X stock, but will also have more people waiting in line than carrier stores or major retailers. In the United States, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile stores will have the iPhone X available for purchase, as will Target and Best Buy locations.
If you’ve waited in line for an iPhone before, you probably have insight into some of the better locations. In the Bay Area, for example, we have dozens of stores to choose from, but Palo Alto and San Francisco tend to get the most stock. Flagship stores like San Francisco are often well stocked, but draw a lot of customers, while indoor locations like Valley Fair are popular. Smaller Apple Stores like Oakridge and Los Gatos are often more overlooked, and I’ve picked up several launch day items at the former.
These examples are limited to my area, but the same thing goes for every location. Think about how populated an area is, what the waiting conditions are like, and how many iPhones are likely to be available to try to find the best spot. There are hidden gems out there.
If you haven’t waited in line before, ask around for suggestions. The MacRumors forums are a good resource to get tips and chat with others who are going to be waiting in line.
Apple Store employees aren’t going to give out details on the amount of stock that will be available, but sometimes you can get lucky with a third-party retailer, so if you’re going to choose a carrier or a big box store, it’s worth calling ahead just to check.
Once you’ve decided on a location, the best advice I can give is go early. iPhone X pre-orders sold out in minutes, so it definitely looks like stock is low. The last thing you want to do is line up at 4:00 a.m. and wait for hours just to not get a new device.
If you can manage it, this is one of those launches where going the night before or even earlier is going to give you the best chance of getting an iPhone X.
Again, though, this is going to depend on location. Starting the morning before the iPhone X launch, go scout your target store. Drive by to see if there are people waiting outside. It’s best to do this a few times during the day, if possible. Once you see a line start forming, that should give you an indication of when you need to be there.
For some launches, I’ve gone early in the morning and been okay, but for others, I’ve waited overnight and still not gotten a device. It’s better to wait a few additional hours and get a spot closer to the front of the line.
Bring a Friend
Waiting in line is better with a friend because if you need to step out of the line to use the restroom or grab a bite to eat, there’s someone to hold your place. It also gives you someone to chat and commiserate with as you stand outside for hours on end. MacRumors readers often plan iPhone launch day meet ups on the forums, and that can be a good way to find someone to wait in line with.
If you’re going to be waiting for several hours or camping out overnight, supplies are essential. You’re going to want a comfortable chair to sit in first and foremost, so bring something that’s portable but not uncomfortable, like a beach chair.
Dressing for the weather is important, so check the forecast. Dress warmly in layers so you’re prepared for the cold overnight or in the early morning. A jacket, warm boots, gloves, and a scarf will make standing in the cold more bearable if you’re waiting someplace chilly. If it’s going to rain, bring a raincoat and an umbrella.
Make sure you bring snacks and something to drink, along with entertainment. Charge your iPhone and iPad and bring a battery pack or two if you have them.
Some people bring tents to camp out overnight, but that’s a lot of equipment to deal with when it comes time to pack up. Still, if you’re waiting for more than 12 hours, it’s worth considering.
Apple employees will often provide drinks and snacks in the morning, but employees aren’t out overnight so you should bring your own supplies too.
You can’t bring a bathroom with you, so make sure you scout out the nearest bathroom locations.
Get to Know Your Line Buddies
When you’re waiting in line, make friends. Get to know the people you’re with, and get a feel for how many people are ahead of you. Lines will undoubtedly swell as it gets closer to the 8:00 a.m. launch time as people who have been saving spots have more people join them.
Line swelling can be super frustrating, so it’s worth being aware of ahead of time. Find out if the people around you are saving spots so there are no surprises. If you make line friends, you also have someone to save your spot if you need to step out of line.
Know What You Want
Before 8:00 a.m., store employees will likely come out, suss out the line, ask what color and capacity you want, and let you know if there’s enough available supply to fill demand. Make sure you know what you want and what your backup plan is so this process goes quickly and smoothly.
Make sure you’re an authorized user on your phone account if it’s a shared plan, and have your payment method planned out and ready. You don’t want to run into any hiccups with ordering after waiting in line.
This is also about the time that you should start packing up your supplies and getting ready to head into the store to make a purchase. Most stores will let customers in a few at a time, but from here, the checkout and purchase process should go smoothly.
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