How To Make Sure You Get An iPhone 4S Order Placed As Soon As They Go On Sale At Midnight


Screen Shot 2011-10-06 at 4.44.01 PM

At midnight tonight, Apple will kick off preorders for their latest and greatest iPhone, the iPhone 4S.

Here’s Cult of Mac’s guide to the best ways to make absolutely sure you get your iPhone 4S preordered right at the stroke of midnight and in your hands next Friday when it officially launches.

Wondering which iPhone 4S to order at midnight? Check out our own recommendation.

Know What Time iPhone 4S Orders Start In Your Location

The world’s a big place, and while iPhone 4S 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 this 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 4S order page early this time, but better safe than sorry.

Load Up The iPhone 4S 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 4S 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 4S 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.

Keep Your Fingers Crossed

We’re guessing that there’ll be enough iPhone 4Ses to go around this time: this is more of an upgrade to an existing phone than radical new hardware, and Apple’s had plenty of time to pump out iPhone 4S units. Still, you can never underestimate the popularity of a new Apple product, so sending up a little prayer to whatever deity or spirit you like to believe in never hurts anything.

  • gacbmmml

    AT&T says my iPhone 4 isn’t eligible until mid November. I picked up the iPhone 4 on launch day last year.

  • Ben Boyd

    did they say midnight? or might it be 8am, 10am or any other time on the 7th?

  • MacHead

    This is why its good to live in a small city, the ATT stores cant get slammed down n sell out of stock when the population is small! Dont have to fight the net or worry of sold out stores!!

  • guiyeja

    What about unlocked devices? 

  • Alex Stewart

    I’ve had my browser on that page since it went up Tuesday.

  • fbloise


  • CharliK

    At this point all info points to everything being locked. My guess is that it will stay that way for a month or two to discourage reseller antics.

  • CharliK

    Wow you sure are in luck. Cause in June 2010 you signed a TWO YEAR CONTRACT. But instead of making you wait until June 2012, they are going to give you an upgrade seven months early.

  • Incognito

    I called ATT today bitching that I did not want to wait til Nov 25. I was told that if you go into an ATT company store they will let you buy a new one on October 26. I asked for a better option and while I did not get an earlier time, I did get an offer of a VIP plan that saved me $10 a month by reducing my plan by 100 minutes but adding 5000 weekend and nights free, I had a lot of rollover minutes. The cost to terminate was about $195 with tax if I wanted to leave. I am sure I will not get a phone on Oct 26 but I can wait a couple weeks rather than pay $250 premium or $195 cancellation and go to Verizon. What they did not know was I want to stay with ATT anyway since I use a Microcell at home and would need one for another carrier since I have a lot of metal on my roof and hurricane glass all around so the signal in my house is bad. And the Wilson units did not work as well.

  • Irevues

    I called Apple an hour ago to ask this and they said it went on sale at 12:01 am PST or 2:01 if your in Chicago like me;

  • Bitter Witch

    I got my iPhone 3G last year in March and was available for an eligible for an upgrade in May.  

  • Kilgarin

    Is it better to order from Apple’s site or from my service provider’s site?  This is my first time doing this and I want to get it right!

  • yinkel

    thanks John — good tips.

    (thats what she said!)


  • Samuel Shallenberger

    Thanks for the Autorefresh downloads! I’ve been looking for one of those.

  • Shravan Gupta

    I have an AT&T Buisness account, they won’t let me order it online in a convenient way
    is it likely that they have iPhone 4S es in stock at 7 AM when AT&T’s phone lines open up for order placement?

  • Thex1138


  • dagamer34

    Your device providers site is guaranteed to crash. Heck Apples site will crash as well because it’s not designed to handle that kind of load very well.

  • AlterThending

    How do us people who have 1 month left till we are able to upgrade iPhones? How do I get past their bs?

  • herald

    It’s Oct. 7th 00:45 a.m. here in Germany and still no possibility to preorder at the Apple online store :(

  • JohnGere9678

    people all over the world are making money online and their check is more than 5000$ month after month just working on the computer for few houres , more home workers needed immediately,This system is so simple that anyone with a computer can make money FAST! If Read about it and follow the steps to get started here,

  • guest

    it is because it was 15:45 at Cupertino, California. check again at 9am :)

  • Chris Killen

    Will it be easier to order from AT&T’s website? If I do that, will it ship to my house or to the store and I have to pick it up? 

  • greenEL

    This is my first time preordering the new iphone.  Will the apple site give me the option of where I want it shipped, house or att store or apple store?  If I just go to the att store when it opens and preorder will I still get the phone on release day?  Thank you for your help.

  • Rossoneri

    Can I pre-order in Dublin Ireland?

  • Bitter Witch

    Wtf?  I’m not going to wake up at 2 am just to pre-order an iPhone.

  • marianne riddile

    You ARE bitter!

  • yinkel

    Upgrade System says: 


    What to do now?

    Jason Chen

  • buggietechnica

    No thanks… not until I can get an iPhone on a month-to-month plan. The carriers are all crooks and liars.

  • TeeJay1100

    There is no way in he** I would do this, it is not this important!

  • greenEL

    For those of you that had the same question that I did about where I could have it shipped… I just had an online chat with a representative and they said that the phone will be shipped to the billing address and that is the only option.


    You need to use Wolfram and a calculator to figure out east coast time is 3 hours ahead of west coast time? Really?

  • Mitch

    I talked to someone on LiveChat today and they said after you place your order you will be able to reroute your shipment.

  • BeachWar

    You’re still going to spend about the same amount of money.

  • Blkbelt121

    I am with sprint, but when I moved to where I am now, the service is horrible. So I am thinking about switching to verizon but I do not want to miss out on ordering an iPhone. So if I order from the apple site, will that iPhone work on verizon or sprint?

  • dang

    no it won’t that is wrong. the phone is shipped to the billing address of your cell phone service. you can have it changed also you just have to call and change it. i ordered iPhone 4 and i wanted to have it shipped to another address that is not the billing address associated with my iTunes account instead of where my phone bill goes.

  • Bitter Witch

    You will have to order it at full retail price, then, unless you want to order it with Sprint and accept the termination fee (which would probably be better in the long run).

  • Bitter Witch

    How the hell did you know?! 

  • Blkbelt121

    well my contract is up for sprint….so if I pre-ordered the phone tonight through sprint, since thats who i have my account through, I could get the  phone for the new contract price of 199 right? and then could I take that phone that I buy through sprint and then activate it on a verizon plan later?

  • freediverx

    More, actually. Month to month plans are overpriced.

  • CurtisWeakley

    Nope. It will be locked to Sprint.

  • freediverx

    Every year when a new iPhone comes out, AT&T offers some sort of quick turnaround that entices some people to order from them instead of from Apple. Aside from the fact that they don’t deserve a penny of extra commission from a direct sale, every year they end up disappointing customers with delays and broken promises. Screw AT&T and order direct from Apple. If not, don’t come whining to the forums later.

  • freediverx

    Go to this link to confirm when you can upgrade:

    In many cases they’ll offer an early upgrade at additional cost ($250).

    If your question is how to get an early upgrade without paying an extra fee you’re SOL.

  • freediverx

    Who do you feel a) deserves to make some extra profit from a direct sale and b) is most likely to give you good service?

  • Ryan

    Does anyone know: Are these shipped OUT on the 14th, or can we receive them by the 14th? I am trying to figure out what city to have it sent (I travel for work)

  • mrmansamusa

    This is correct. You can change the location once you have ordered and before it is shipped. 

  • ACSSprez

    Will they be selling the unlocked version?

  • marianne riddile

    See, so cranky…. :)

  • Steven Chaffer

    St Peter is ordering one at the golden gates so why couldn’t you? He wanted Steve to bring him one but… You know… We can’t take anything with us when we go!

  • John Mozelewski

    lol poor ppl wasting money on a stupid iphone 4 that is still sqr box i feel so bad. the ipad 2 is amazing and i love it but the nexus prime will be bigger faster and better than your lame iphone 4s

  • guiyeja

    That’s a bummer… It’s supossed to be a “world phone” with the whole significance of the sentence… I was hoping to buy one in the next 2 weeks and bring it overseas. Now I have to wait 2 or maybe 3 awful months to get one… 

  • Steven Chaffer

    You wait a month

  • Steven Chaffer

    You wait a month

  • Thebigg2491

    The page just got the “Be Back Soon”

  • guiyeja

    It all points that the unlocked version will not be sold at this moment… Maybe after 2 or 3 months we will have the option to get one of these unlocked.

    Talking about a “world phone” that doesn’t going to the entire world, yet… A pity.

  • Steven Chaffer

    Next time we would appreciate if you touch yourself in the privacy of your own bedroom. Cool?

  • John Mozelewski

    i will touch my self over the nexus/droid prime if its got 4.65 inch screen so can play on a phone thats not made for 2007 and is easily rooted so can tether it to my ipad 2 where ever i go damn i will get so excited i might touch myself. Best of both worlds great apps from apple and android and great customization from android. just hope ipad 2 gets ios 5 jailbreak and i will for sure be getting excited outside my bedroom mr steven 

  • Chris Killen

    Don’t assume I’d whine. So, if I do order from AT&T there is a chance I can upgrade early at the discounted price, but if I order from Apple there’s no chance? With these sites like Gazelle and even eBay, I guess it doesn’t matter, huh? iPhone 4s are being bought now for $300…so, you could put that towards the new phone. Hmm…decisions… 

  • CharliK

    I said “MY GUESS” which means it could be wrong. They certainly aren’t advertising if you can get it unlocked. Which makes sense because they would prefer that the phones selling in the US go to folks living in the US. Not folks that want to haul them off to other countries (perhaps to sell). 

    See what happens when the preorders start. They might be more forthcoming at that point

  • CharliK

    Unless of course ATT figures that since it is a smaller area they don’t need as many phones. In which case, you have the same risk

  • Justin

    cool story bro, go to an android website and tell the users there 

  • CharliK

    “I called ATT today bitching that I did not want to wait til Nov 25.”

    There’s going to come a time when that tactic gets you a ‘great, don’t let the f-ing door hit you in the butt on the way out’ reply. Sure it might get someone fired for saying it, but they won’t mind too much. Because the carrier reps are probably sick and tired of people like you whining because you don’t want to finish the contract you agreed to when you bought the phone. 

  • Partyrock

    Shouldn’t you be nut-swinging over on the fandroid forums? I do not care for Android, but never once in two years have I stopped by to troll a fandroid forum, that may be because I have a girlfriend and don’t live with my mom.

  • Harit Patel

    page still not up !!

  • Dave

    Just placed my order via Verizon’s web site.   Woooo Hooooo

  • djrobsd

    VERIZON PRE ORDERS WERE LIVE 6 minutes before midnight!!! WOOT

  • Mark Andersen

    come on!  I need to get back to sleep

  • Mepurdybum

    Has anybody called the number?

  • Seteague

    Its still down…

  • djrobsd

    Sprint… slow.. not loading… Apple.. Still not up… AT&T still not up… Verizon worked 6 minutes early… WHAT DOES THAT SAY about Verizon’s service versus all the other carriers?  They know how to handle loads… unlike AT&T.

  • Rprasaud

    no luck on canadian site yet!

  • Gasdgasd

    Called it several times.. No answer, busy signals, nothing helpful….

  • Andrew

    still down…..

  • APPL13D5C13NC3

    WTF AT&T!! grrrr!!! >:-(

  • Grandtheft37

    Ya but apple’s own site

  • APPL13D5C13NC3

    Go shove a cucumber up your prolapsed ass you stupid fuck

  • profoundquiet

    Tired of seeing this “We’ll be back soon” page

  • thewert

    Call the number? Naw… that just makes too much sense!

  • Andrew

    app broke website broke  att broke…..

  • Donkey_Punch

    Have to tell ya…I’m pretty annoyed I got up so early for this

  • Bitter Witch

    If the site doesn’t come up soon I’m going to kill someone.

  • pdjjw

    Apple apparently having some problems with their first ever product launch online.  

  • Jaime Cruz

    Almost 30 minutes late!!! WOW Steve is really gone.. :(

  • derekedelaney

    thats not working either

  • Cyrways

    so ready to sleep and have been auto refreshing for 40 or so mins. :/

  • Travis

    3:24 now, and still nothing on Apple Store or ATT :(

  • Abernard796

    He wouldnt stand for it!

  • Steve

    Well this is working real good….   I knew I should have made a pot of coffee

  • Zaid Choudhary

    so do we get it on the 16th or will it be shipped on the 16th?

  • EricG

    Ok everybody stop trying for just a sec, let me try, I think they can only handle one order at a time

  • djrobsd

    Are you being sarcastic here? hahaha

  • djrobsd

    OK guys here’s the thing… I highly doubt there are millions of people lined up to preorder iphones.  Go get some rest and try again in the morning, or do the smart thing and switch to Verizon, their site is working awesome.  

  • Jaime Cruz

    Spint site is officially DOWN.. this sunks camel toes

  • Travis

    3:24 EST

  • qoqo

    Instead of having to watch the screen for the store to return, I’ve written the following perl script that will let you know using the Mac’s voice.  So, turn the volume up and go back to bed :-)

    #!/usr/bin/perlwhile(1) {   $op = `curl –silent –retry-max-time 2 –raw | grep Vietnam`;   $found = 1;   foreach (split(“\n”, $op)) {      chomp;      if(/Vietnam/) {         print “Not ready :-(\n”;         $found = 0;      }   }   if($found) {      print “Ready!\n”;      `say “Apple Store is ready.”`;      exit;   }   sleep(20);}

  • thewert

    I know, man. I’m on the phone,, and I kind of wish I was on Verizon…

  • EricG

    A small IT payoff and Verizon customers get priority on 4S pre-orders?

  • rohitkapur

    wow… really long time

  • Aaron Quiroz23

    sprint site is up

  • Andrew

    sucks   taking forever

  • Joshua Shipman

    ordered my two phones off of VZ just a few minutes before midnight, very weird, it had a screen asking if I was ok to order this without an employee discount? I hope this doesn’t f*** with my “EMPLOYER” discount. VZ!!!!!!!

  • Patg

    is funny because its not their first ever product launch.

  • Zaid Choudhary

    so do we get it on the 16th or will it be shipped on the 16th?telus site is up

  • roy levy

    Still doesn’t work :(

  • Cortney Taylor

    I don’t think that I could get much rest, even if I wanted to. The adrenaline is pumping, baby. I’m on a mission!

  • Aaron Quiroz23

    sprint was up :(

  • Fat Bastard

    Verizon’s site stated that pre-orders would ship on the 13th, 

  • Zaid Choudhary

    wonder if apple will ship before hand hmm

  • Kratos

    I saw the ‘pre-order’ blue button for 1 second on the UK site, but when i clicked it went back to the list of numbers.

  • roy levy

    40 minutes and counting…!

  • Ju


  • Cortney Taylor

    Site up!

  • Mattlazar

    its up

  • Harit Patel

    apple site working

  • pdjjw

    Gives me a good feeling for iCloud’s imminent launch.

  • Nichole

    Anyone else having problems? Stuck at new or existing customer…

  • Funwit23

    att still on hold…phone…site is still down too :(

  • Harit Patel

    stuck at new or existing customer

  • cg

    Anyone else having trouble upgrading with ATT via Apple’s site?

  • qoqo

    So, no unlocked 4S for CDMA :-(  No way I’m staying with ATT, and Sprint won’t accept orders for new customers from Apple’s online store.  Drat.  Back to bed with no phone…

  • stlcajun

    Same here – they’re killing me.

  • Cyrways

    it’s up for me too, but i can’t select replace line

  • djrobsd

    apple up but doesnt go past new or existing customer no matter what radio button you select.  

  • Ch435

    Have to wait for confirmation email from apple before ordering…?? Huh?

  • qoqo

    Improved on earlier script that speaks to you when the App Store is ready (which looks like it’s still awaiting moderation. 

    I’m sure it could be better, but it worked for me as is…

    #!/usr/bin/perlwhile(1) {   $op = `curl –silent –retry-max-time 2 –raw`;   $found = 1;   $loadedPage = 0;   foreach (split(“\n”, $op)) {      chomp;      if(/apple-header/) {         $loadedPage = 1;      }      if(/title_backsoon/) {         print “Not ready :-(\n”;         #`say “Not ready”`;         $found = 0;      }   }   if($loadedPage && $found) {      print “Ready!\n”;      `say “Apple Store is ready.”`;      exit;   }       sleep(20);} 

  • Andrew


  • Nichole

    now stuck at eligibility…gesh, this is going to take awhile…

  • Mepurdybum

    this is awful

  • Nichole

    I was stuck there and then stuck at eligibility…now I’m stuck at carrier processing information…it’s just taking a LONG time….

  • Michael Morris

    i know it’s tough to plan for so much traffic, but this is just sheer incompetence

  • hasrants

    got a email confirmation but got an error after submitting order after entering CC. confused now

  • Cyrways

    getting through slowly

  • Jaime Cruz

    anyone else trying to preorder from sprint?.. no luck for me

  • Cyrways

    strange.. :/

  • hasrants

    ok listen. i was trying to make an order from iPhone app as well as website at same time. from the app I was able to get as far as checking out, logging in via apple id by confirming password, and entering my last 4 digits on CC. once i hit place order.. there was an error message, yet i got a confirmation via email.. anyone get this?

  • Noreply

    stuck at new or existing on apple

  • hasrants

    ok woo hoo, looks good. logged into my credit card online and checked pending activity. i see an apple hold on card.. looks like I’m all set even though error… nite

  • Travis

    My concern is that it is asking me what data plan I want. I am on the unlimited data plan from AT&T from before, do I lose this unlimited data plan if I want to upgrade to the new iPhone?

  • Travis

    My concern is that it is asking me what data plan I want. I am on the unlimited data plan from AT&T from before, do I lose this unlimited data plan if I want to upgrade to the new iPhone?

  • Mepurdybum

    I’ve seen this message about a thousand times now
    An error has occurred during your session. Please return to the Store Menu to continue shopping.

  • Vicente

    Apple site, will time out trying to “replace line” and thus new line & activation fee.
    AT&T timing out
    App timing out

  • John Marshall

    I prepared my account for 1-click ordering ahead of time and paid cash for a white 16gb model. In and out in under 10 seconds.

    I refuse to put up with subsidy hassles by the telcos to save a few bucks.

  • Dhanniestar

    this is crazy it wont go past the verifying my at&t account

  • stlcajun

    The upgrade process on ATT’s website just worked like a charm for me – might want to consider trying there….

  • Vicente

    Worked for you?  I’ve been trying for an hour now, keep getting P1234 error on upgrade.

  • Michael Morris

    here’s my experience so far (see attached image)

  • Funwit23

    Anyone else been on hold with AT&T for the last hour and 10 minutes?!

  • Sydney Nichols

    They should have an option of unlimited for $30. I got as far as choosing a data plan and then it failed for me, and I had that option. I’m grandfathering in from an iPhone 2G.

  • Mepurdybum

    Jeez Louise us! They finally let me buy a phone. Guh!

  • Sydney Nichols

    I breezed through the AT&T upgrade as well, but I don’t want to buy through them as I want to be sure I get my iPhone ASAP (I don’t trust AT&T getting it to me on the 14th), and I need to buy the AppleCare+ plan as well, which can only be purchased through Apple, and must be purchased at the time of purchasing the phone. Grr.

  • Kelz132001

    still no luck for me

  • EricG

    Apple’s process a mess, never seemed to complete. Tried AT&T site, worked perfect, I was even able to keep my Unlimited Data plan. They just make you exchange old plan for Unlimited Data for 4S, was confusing at first, but the exchange was quick and easy, same price, etc. Yay!

  • Kelz132001

    how did you do this? i keep getting error messages on att

  • Thebigg2491

    Just finished my order with Sprint!

  • EricG

    Just signed into, AT&T actually offered the upgrade as soon as I signed in, so I followed the process. Had to exchange old Unlimited data plan for 4S unlimited data (same price), other than that it was the usual 2 year renewal, $50 tax, $18 contract fee. The system processed, I got a receipt and confirmation email shortly thereafter. Maybe people are just now realizing, ordering through Apple is a lost cause, so they’re switching to the carriers and AT&T is finally suffering server overload. Good luck. Trying to decide if this was better than waiting in line for several hours next week…hmmm. :)

  • A

    Ordered my iPhone 4s thru att. I think I will buy AppleCare+ from Apple then activate the plan right after activating the phone

  • leung

    just reserved two on apple site

  • Shannon

    Apple finally decided AT&T sucks.  They changed their order process to allow you to “reserve” one and they’ll email you back when you can set up your rate and data plan.  Nice.

  • Joseph2ng

    It did not work. Both AT&T and Apple sites Were jammed. It took until 2:30pm pdt to get a mysterious message: cancel your existing order first. Never confirmed and no way to check.

    Place order with AT&T again this morning at 7am. Confirmed this time.

    Huge demand!

  • Iheartgirtrude

    I gave up on the apple/AT&T sites at 3:30am. Went to the AT&T store at 11:30 and finally put my damn order in and I won’t get it for “2-3” weeks, grr…..