Although Apple hasn’t directly confirmed the exact time yet, iPhone 5 preorders look set to begin tomorrow morning at 12:01AM PST, exactly… the same time iPhone 4S preorders started last year.
The iPhone 5 is slated to be Apple’s most wildly in-demand phone yet, and while Apple is attempting to balance the crush on their website by starting preorders in the middle of the night, it will, in all likelihood, still be a madhouse when Apple starts selling iPhones later tonight.
Hence this guide. We’re going to walk you through the best ways to make absolutely sure you get your iPhone 5 preordered right at the stroke of midnight and in your hands next Friday when it officially launches in the minimum amount of time, so you can go right back to sleep.
Wondering which iPhone 5 to buy? Check out our guide to finding the iPhone 5 that is right for you here.
Know What Time iPhone 5 Orders Start In Your Location
The world’s a big place, and while iPhone 5 preorders kick off at midnight Cupertino time, depending on where you are, that could be quite a bit later.
Make sure to double check before you set your alarms. I find the easiest way to check the time zone difference is with Wolfram Alpha. Just go over to the link and type:
When it is midnight in Cupertino, CA what time is it in [Your City, State and/or Country]
For example, when I do that search, the results for Boston, MA tell me that when it is midnight in Cupertino, it is 3:00AM in Boston. Easy!
Set Your Alarm For 20 Minutes Ahead Of Time
We don’t really care what kind of alarm you use — the alarm app that comes with your iPhone, one of the many ones on the App Store, a bedside speaker dock or even a good, old fashion clanger — but whichever one you pick, make sure to set it twenty minutes before preorders go up.
Why? A couple of reasons. One, chances are, you’re going to have to wake up early for this, and you want to give yourself enough time to get to the computer if you’re groggy or hit the snooze button by force of habit.
Second? When Apple put up the iPad 2 order page on March 10th of last year, they said they’d put the page up at exactly midnight Cupertino time. However, the page was actually up a good five or ten minutes earlier than that, giving the early birds a first crack at the worm. Considering how hard it was to get an iPad 2 at launch, that ten minute window was enough to mean an extra few days delay in getting an iPad 2 delivered to your door.
So be there early. Apple might not put up the iPhone 5 preorder page early this time, but better safe than sorry.
Load Up The iPhone 5 Apple.com Page
Not much more to it than that. When midnight hits, this page will change to show a big ‘Buy Now’ link underneath the iPhone 5 header. That’s what you’re looking for.
Refresh, Refresh, Refresh
Look, there’s no way around it: you’re going to have to refresh a lot when it gets close to midnight. Luckily, there are browser extensions that will do this for you. Here are some of the ones we like.
• Google Chrome: Chrome Refresh
• Safari: Autorefresh
• Firefox: ReloadEvery
• Opera: Offers auto-refresh abilities by default. Just right click on the iPhone website and select the Reload Every option.
Once you’ve installed the add-on or extension for your browser, set an interval, telling the browser how often to reload the iPhone 5 page. We suggest every twenty seconds, or three times a minute.
That’s a small enough interval that you’ll be sure to see the link go up as soon as Apple pushes it live, but not so often that you’ll bring Apple’s website to its knees.
Consider Preordering From A Site Other Than Apple.com
This one is optional, but this year, Apple won’t be the only site offering the iPhone 5 for preorder starting at midnight Cupertino time. Verizon and Sprint will also be offering the iPhone 5 starting at midnight, and presumably AT&T will also follow suit, meaning that if Apple’s servers are being crushed, you may very well be able to order your iPhone with your carrier directly.
Here are the pages on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon where you’ll be able to find iPhone 5s available for preorder starting at midnight:
Last year, Apple’s iPhone 4S preorders didn’t start until 45 minutes later than their appointed time, presumably due to technical difficulties. With three major carriers also offering preorders starting at midnight PST, you’ve got some back up sources to fall back upon.
Set Up Your Default Shipping And Billing Info On Apple.com And Enable Express Checkout
When the iPhone 5 becomes available for preorder from Apple.com, you’re going to want to get through the checkout process as quickly as possible. Every second you delay increases the chance of the load on Apple’s servers being so great that when you make your order, it won’t go through.
If you’re ordering through Apple.com, the easiest way to make getting a new iPhone 5 sent to you as much of a “one-click” affair as possible is to go to your Apple.com Account Settings Page and make sure your payment information and shipping information are up to date, then scroll down to the Express Checkout field and turn the toggle to “ON.”
Now, when it’s time for you to buy an iPhone 5, you should have most of the fields populated for you automatically, including your patment info.
Set Up Some Text Shortcuts To Make Filling In The Order Form Easier
If you’re not ordering your iPhone 5 from Apple’s official site (and therefore can’t follow the steps above in enabling express checkout), you’re still going to want to fill out your order as quickly as possible. Why not set up some text shortcuts, then, to enter the information your carrier needs to get your iPhone to you as quickly as possible?
If you’re using a Mac, it’s super easy. Just go to Applications > System Preferences > Language & Text and click on the Text Tab. From there, you should make sure “Use symbol and text substitution” is ticked and press the + symbol at the bottom of the window to add a new substitution.
What you want to now do is come up with text shortcuts to fill out common fields as quickly as possible. You want to fill out the “Replace” field with an easy to remember shortcut you’re unlikely to type by accident. For example, I set up [address1] to be replaced with “19 Whatever Street”, [city] to be replaced with “Somerville” and [credit] to be replaced by my credit card.
Now, when the iPhone 5 preorder pages go live, you can just enter these shortcuts instead of doing a lot of typing.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
In the past, iPhone preorder and launch days have been pretty stressful, but we’re hopeful that Apple will manage to satisfy iPhone 5 demand this time. We know they’ve been building iPhone 5s for months. We know that customers will be able to preorder iPhone 5s from four different sites, instead of the Apple.com bottleneck of recent years. And judging by the third-gen iPad launch in March, Apple has finally figured out how to build enough of a new device to go around. Still, there’s a lot of elements here beyond your control… everything from your alarm not going off, to Apple having an iPhone 5 shortage. So a little prayer and superstition never hurts, does it?