How to Make Sure You Get an iPhone 5 On Release Day

Apple announced the iPhone 5 with a taller display, 4G LTE and a number of other small , but nice additions. Users that want to get their hands on the iPhone 5 on release date need to take action to make sure they aren’t left holding an iPhone 4S for another 3-4 weeks.

The iPhone 5 pre-order starts tonight at 12:01 AM Pacific and 3:01 AM Eastern. That’s a late night for iPhone 5 buyers, but it’s the best way to ensure an “out for delivery” notification on the iPhone 5 release date.

Users that sold their old iPhone to a trade in service for up to $500 need to ship the phone off in as little as 7 days with some services, which means getting an iPhone 5 on release date or going without an iPhone until stock improves.

iPhone 5 Preorder

iPhone 5 pre-orders start at 12:01AM Pacific, 3:01 AM Friday morning.

iPhone 5 Preorder

Apple, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T will all offer iPhone 5 pre-orders tonight at the same time. These pre-orders will likely go fast, and the websites will likely buckle under the load of iPhone 5 pre-orders.

Read: iPhone 5 Carrier Comparison AT&T vs. Sprint. Vs. Verizon

If you plan to pre-order the iPhone 5 tonight you will need to check your iPhone 5 upgrade eligibility. Apple typically doesn’t allow off contract purchases during the pre-order, but the pricing suggest this year might be different. when checking my iPhone 5 upgrade eligibility I see full price upgrade options.

iPhone 5 preorder price

Apple may allow off contract iPhone 5 pre-orders.

Make sure you have the number for the line you plan to upgrade, the last four digits of the primary account holder’s social security number and any account passwords, as well as a way to make a payment online.

Watch out, there are issues with AT&T’s online system so the iPhone eligibility may be incorrect. AT&T offers iPhone 5 early upgrades to some users.

Based on a poor experience ordering online during last year’s iPhone pre-order, one of our writers will be sleeping through the night and ordering in the morning. He may get lucky, but users that need to send an old phone off may want to set the alarm for 3 AM eastern tonight.

In Store on iPhone 5 Release Date

iPhone 5 Release date Line

Expect lines for the iPhone 5 release.

Buyers that miss or skip the iPhone 5 pre-order process can still go in store on September 21st when the iPhone 5 will go on sale at 8 AM at Apple Stores and at Sprint, Verizon and AT&T retail locations.

Expect long lines on iPhone 5 release day, especially at Apple Retail stores. While Apple Stores will likely receive the most iPhone 5 models to sell, users can opt for shorter lines at carrier stores.

If you plan to go to an Apple Store for the iPhone 5 release date, arrive early, dress in layers, bring a chair and a friend.

Read: Which iPhone 5 Size is Right for Me?

The best bet based on our past experience is to find an overlooked corporate store. During the iPhone 4S launch, GottaBeMobile Publisher Xavier Lanier walked right past a line at the Apple store to a Verizon kiosk in the same mall with plenty of iPhones in stock.

I plan to check in with my local kiosk and corporate store next week, where there is usually a list of users interested in the new iPhone. This isn’t a pre-order, but in the past the store has called to let me know I should be there at opening if they expect to have one in stock.

Best Buy did not announce plans, but features an iPhone 5 promo on the home page, so we expect they will have some iPhone 5 units on hand on September 21st.

How Long is the Wait After Pre-orders?

iPHone Sold OutOnce Apple’s initial supply of iPhone 5 phones available for pre-order are purchased, usually within 24 hours, the wait jumps to 1-2 weeks for online deliveries. This means users that don’t get an iPhone 5 on launch will be looking at a delivery between September 28th and October 5th. With past Apple launches demand has pushed deliveries to 2-3 weeks in some cases.

In the past Apple Stores, Best Buy, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon received additional iPhone deliveries throughout the weeks following the initial launch, but finding the iPhone 5 in stock will remain a challenge for at least a month.

Bottom line, if you need an iPhone 5 on launch day, stay up to pre-order or plan to head to a local store early on September 21st.