The survival guide to pre-ordering your iPhone 6

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Unlike last year, Apple will let you pre-order your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus tonight, starting at 12.01 am PT. If our recent poll is any indication, it seems that almost twice as many people will pre-order the phone rather than wait in line next Friday to buy it directly from an Apple Store or one of the authorized retailers.

Pre-ordering has both its advantages and its drawbacks, so you should carefully weight your options before making a decision. To help you out, we’ve created this survival guide to pre-ordering your iPhone 6 where we share some simple tips on how to prepare for tonight.

Why pre-order

Why would you want to pre-order in the first place? While some of us have good excuses such as having to show up at work on time, the main benefit of pre-ordering is that you won’t have to wait for several hours in line when the iPhone 6 becomes available in stores on September 19. If your pre-order goes through, you’re assured to secure a device which will be delivered to you on September 19.

That is of course if you’re able to pre-order on time. It is not unusual to see pre-order delivery times fall from the actual launch date to several days. Typically, if your pre-order goes through within a few hours of the kick off time, you’re likely to receive your device on September 19. If you wait too long, you risk to see that delivery time pushed back. Time is of the essence, so the sooner you can place this pre-order, the better your chances.

No matter what happens, you’ll know when you will receive your device as pre-order confirmations always show an estimated delivery date, which is fairly accurate.

Assuming you’re able to pre-order and get confirmation that you will receive your device on September 19, you’ll have to make sure that you’re home to receive the package from FedEx or UPS, or that you sign up a waiver allowing the carrier to leave the package at your door if you’re not present to sign. When your iPhone ships, you will receive a tracking number with instructions on how to let the delivery guy know it is ok for him to leave the package at your door.

Pre-ordering and having your iPhone shipped to you is all great, but from my experience, it’s also been pretty nerve wracking and frustrating. I used to pre-order my devices because of the convenience, but because my area is last on the delivery route, I would always get my package at the end of the day, making me wait all day for the precious device to arrive. First world problems, you might say, rightfully so. Still, I specifically remember the year the iPhone 5 launched. I walked by my local AT&T store and realized only a handful of people were in line. I could have lined up with everybody else and most likely get my phone in an hour or so. But because I had pre-ordered, I had to go back home and wait for FedEx to come. The FedEx guy didn’t show up until 4pm that day. Since that day, I have said no to pre-orders.

I’m not trying to convince you pre-ordering is not a good option. I’m merely trying to warn you it has some downsides too. If you decide to go ahead and pre-order, then read on for more tips.

Check your eligibility

Before you get too excited about pre-ordering your iPhone 6, you have to make sure you find out what price you’re going to pay for it. If you bought your previous iPhone (or other smartphone) two years ago, then you are eligible for an upgrade. If you bought last year’s iPhone 5s, then you’re probably not eligible for an upgrade. Either way, you want to make sure what your status is before tonight so that there is no surprise when time comes to pre-order.

Earlier today, we published a short guide on how to check your iPhone upgrade eligibility where we highlight several options for you to check your status. Unless you’re positive you’re eligible for an upgrade, I’d advise you to check it out to make sure what your options are comes midnight tonight.

Figure out what device you want now

The pre-ordering start time is a pretty hectic time and you don’t want to waste precious seconds figuring out what model, what finish, and what storage option you want. If you’re going to be pre-ordering your device tonight, you must figure out all the details of your pre-order now. It means you must make up your mind about either getting the iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus. You must make a decision about the finish of the device, and finally, you must make sure you know exactly how much storage space you want for your iPhone.

It sounds like a non-issue, but again, you don’t want to waste time weighting your options when pre-orders go live. When they go live, you must be ready to click as quick as possible to select what you want and wrap up your order. Remember, a few seconds can make a big difference in the end, and those 30 seconds you took to decide between silver or gold could mean you will receive your iPhone 6 on September 22 instead of September 19.

Staying awake or setting an alarm?

Depending on your sleeping habits and where you live, you’ll have two options when it comes to making sure you’re behind your computer at 12.01 am PT tonight. You can either decide to stay awake, or go to sleep for a few hours and set an alarm to ring a few minutes before the T time.

I live in California, so in previous years, I would simply stay up until midnight and go to bed once I had pre-ordered. But if you live on the East coast for example, 12.01am PT is 3.01am ET for you. It might be a little hard to stay up that late (again, it also depends on your sleeping habits). If that’s the case, I would definitely decide to go to bed, set an alarm for 15 minutes before pre-orders start, and get up then.

Once again, only you can make that decision. If you’re anything like me, also keep in mind that the excitement of the pre-order launch might actually prevent you from sleeping anyway.

When and where to pre-order?

As previously mentioned, pre-orders will go live at 12.01 am PT. That’s 2.01 am CT, and 3.01 am ET.

As far as we know, only Apple and carriers are taking pre-orders for the iPhone 6 at this time. Although Best Buy, RadioShack, Walmart, and other retailers are authorized Apple retailers, there is no indication on these companies’ website that they will be taking pre-orders. Target, who’s also an authorized retailer notes on its website that pre-orders will be available “in stores” on September 12. This means you won’t be able to pre-order from Target’s website, but you’ll be able to pre-order from a physical store.

This leaves us with only a few options to pre-order: Apple, or the carriers.

Going through Apple’s site is a no brainer for most people. After all, who better than the maker of the iPhone itself can better serve you? And that’s mostly right. The experience of pre-ordering a device on Apple’s website is much better than that of a carrier’s site. However, from previous experience, I’ve found that Apple’s site gets slammed with so much traffic that it can make it for a terrible experience too, with pages taking forever to load, or simply returning errors. While this was more true a few years ago than it is today, pre-ordering a device from Apple’s site from day one can prove to be a rocky road.

In the past, when Apple’s site was buried under massive amounts of traffic, I’ve found AT&T’s site to be more reliable. If I was to pre-order tonight, I would most likely go through AT&T. Fanboys might scream “blasphemy,” but it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting your pre-order in as quick and as reliably as possible.

For your convenience, here is where you can pre-order your iPhone from tonight:

It appears that pre-ordering via Apple’s website will give you the option to pick up your device in store on September 19. Although most stores might not participate, you will see an option to pick up your device in an Apple Store at the time of your pre-order. That could be a definite plus, compared to waiting for the FedEx guy. But keep in mind that you likely won’t be the only one having chose this option, and you’ll probably have to wait in line to get your device anyway.

Don’t let that cache fool you

I clearly remember last time I pre-ordered an iPhone. I was frenetically refreshing my browser, waiting for the pre-order screen to go live, when all the sudden, I saw a river of tweets telling pre-orders were live. A bunch of refreshes later, and I was still not seeing the pre-order screen. As it turned out, my browser had cached the web page and was serving me page that was a few minutes old. I could have cleared the cache, but I decided that opening a different browser would probably be quicker. I launched Chrome and went with my pre-order. These were a few seconds that I could have saved. It didn’t have an impact of the final pre-order, but it could have, so be prepared.

My advice is to use your main browser, and if things don’t show on time, try launching a different browser as I did.

Get your payment and shipping info ready

One of the most annoying things about buying online is that you have to fill out forms. Fill in your name, address, email, credit card number, expiration date, security code, etc… This is something that Apple Pay will most definitely fix in the future, but unfortunately we aren’t there quite yet, which is why you must be prepared.

I personally use TextExpander where I created dozens of shortcuts for my personal information and my credit cards details. This way, when I buy something online, I can fill out the forms more quickly than I would if I had to type it all in. Typing a credit card number can be tedious, so be ready.

If you don’t use TextExpander, what you can do is open a text editor and type in your details prior to the pre-order launch. This way, you could quickly copy/paste some of your information  (ie. credit card number) without losing too much time. Once again, every second counts!

Sit back and relax

Now that you are ready for tonight, it is time to sit back and relax. However you decide to place your pre-order, you are now equipped for the T time.

Before the pre-orders go live, make sure to keep a close look on Twitter, because you never know what can happen. A few years ago, pre-orders accidentally went live a few minutes before the scheduled time. It was a nice surprise indeed, and those who were keeping a close eye to their Twitter stream were able to rip the benefits of it, with their pre-orders going through before everybody else.

Because Apple and carriers have been having issues with pre-orders in the past, I assume that they have worked out many of the reasons why sites would crash or return errors due to heavy traffic. I’m confident that this year will be the smoothest pre-order launch to date. See what I’m doing? I’m being positive here because stressing out won’t change a thing.

Congratulations on your pre-order

Yippee! Your pre-order went through. Congratulations. Now it’s time to go to bed. I know it’s hard because your head and belly are filled with excitement, but it will wear off.

If you are pre-ordering your iPhone, please make sure to come by iDB and share your experience with us. We love to hear your anecdotes!