Strong demand and five million sales (perhaps even more) during the opening weekend continue to put a strain on the initial iPhone 5 supply. If you’re in the market for an iPhone 5 and are an avid Apple fan, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll want to waltz inside one of Cupertino’s shiny retail shrines. After all, a new iPhone is a once-in-a-year event so why not treat yourself to that talked-about buying and ownership experience, right?

The problem is, the iPhone 5 is hard to come by at the moment, even as Apple is regularly stocking stores. Luckily, there’s now a better way of buying the sought-after device involving a simple online pre-reservation for in-store pickup the following day…

It’s a huge time saver: no longer do you need to drive to the nearest Apple Store every day to check if the iPhone 5 is available.

The word on the street is that Apple will begin taking online pre-reservations in the U.S. and UK starting 10pm tonight, for the following day. I’d download and install the official Apple Store app as it greatly simplifies the buying process.

Note that your mileage may wary because pre-reservations depend on daily iPhone inventory.

If the system won’t accept your pre-reservation, try again the next day or the day after.

Another thing to keep in mind: pre-reserved devices must be picked up in-store in the next 24 hours.

Otherwise, your order will be cancelled and the company will issue a refund.

Sebastien was able to officially verify the news with an Apple specialist and just snapped the above shot at the Apple Store in Carlsbad, California.

The sign reads:

Due to the popularity of iPhone 5, limited quantities are available for walk-in purchase.

You can also visit after 10:00 p.m. to order one for pickup in store.

For more details, talk to a Specialist.

For now, Apple’s retail page still says that iPhone 5 purchases are available on a first-come, first-served basis:

Now available for walk-in purchase on a first-come, first-served basis at your favorite Apple Retail Store. We can help you choose the right rate plan and get you up and running.

Over at the UK Apple Store, however, the retail page reads:

Reserve yours now and pick it up in store. Limited quantities are also available for walk-in purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. Either way, we can help you choose the right tariff and get you up and running.

According to our little poll, the vast majority of respondents pre-ordered their iPhone 5 and had it delivered to their doorstep.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a media release announcing sales of five million iPhone 5 units:

While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.

Not sure about you, but I’d rather deal with humans as little as possible so in my view, pre-reserving stuff is always the way to go.

Plus, it’s both a time saver and convenience.

Besides, you get a nice excuse to visit an Apple store.

And you?

  • Kok Hean

    There’s not even an official Apple
    Store in Singapore. All those external shops rip off people with ridiculous prices.

  • im on the apple page now, how do you do this?

    • exactly wat i was thinking but then i need four and i see they wud allow only 2 per customer — most probs itll have a diff page at 10 PM ur time

  • juanmacko

    This is a horrible idea

  • So will it be 10pm PDT and 1pm EDT?

    • gonogo

      its Eastern time according to cnet article.

    • Guest

      According to Cnet article its Eastern time…

  • Christina Bryan

    This is pretty much how I obtained my iPhone. I reserved it through Rogers wireless in Canada, received a phone call when my phone was available and simply walked in and set it up. No hassles or waiting in line; I knew my phone was there when I walked into the store.

  • gapperonduty

    This is a good idea..anyone knows if one can start reserving online at apple store for a non-contract one?

  • I’m in the UK and I’ve being trying the reserve process for the pass 3 days and I still havent received any email to say come and pick up the iPhone. I’ve even tried reserving stores miles away from me. I’m going to walk in my local store tomorrow, after all it’s only 10 minutes drive.

  • @official_jdc

    This is odd, I pre-reserved mine on Sunday in the UK for pickup on Moday and have the iPhone now so is this right? (only trouble is there is damage on the phone and i have to take a trip to get it replaced and the stock is empty so i have to wait!)

    • Which UK store was it you reserved yours? I’ve been reserving since Sunday at different stores and nothing.

    • Which store was it in the UK? I’ve tried a number of stores and nothing.

  • Is this for the US too because I’ve been going into the Apple Store almost everyday with no luck.

  • its not working im in nyc and it doesnt let you select pick up at store

  • Rick VanKannon

    It’s not working and I’ve been on hold for 20 minutes.

  • No link for me

  • popo

    is not working ein boston

    • adam

      im in boston also and it snot working for me glad im not the only one.

  • popo

    please help

  • popo

    boston is easter time

  • adam

    if pick up at store works for anyone let me know..

  • not working here in Texas – argh, wondering if I should give up and go to bed, so frustrating! :/

  • imran

    It wont let me select either– from Miami ..grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr :D..I guess we need wakeup at PDT 10pm

  • Guest

    what if i preordered @ at&t?

  • d:L

    what if i preordered at at&t?

  • Its now open for every body to order it for in store pickup..thank god finally

  • Billy

    I was able to place my order last night AT 10pm in Orlando, Fl. Have yet to receive my pick up email though. Says on the website items that are shown as “In Stock” will be available for pick up usually within 1 hour. I’m hoping it is just because of the time that the order was placed. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see…