After over a year of rumor and speculation, we’re less than a day away fr0m the iPad mini finally going up for preorder. Starting at 12:01AM Pacific Time, the iPad mini (Wi-Fi version only) will be available for preorder on Apple’s official site, with units delivering on November 2nd.
It’s always hard to tell with a new product, but if history is anything to go by — the iPhone 5 preorders sold out within hours, and stock is still short — the iPad mini is going to be crazy in-demand. If Apple starts preorders in the middle of the night, it’s because they’re anticipating a madhouse… such a madhouse that if they held it in the middle of the day, their servers would crash under the pressure.
Hence this guide. We’re going to walk you through the best ways to make absolutely sure you get your iPad mini 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 iPad mini to buy? Check out our guide to finding the one that is right for you.
Know What Time iPad mini Preorders Start In Your Location
The world’s a big place, and while iPad mini 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 iPad mini preorder page early this time, but better safe than sorry.
Load Up The iPad mini 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 iPad mini 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 iPad mini 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 iPad mini 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.
Set Up Your Default Shipping And Billing Info On Apple.com And Enable Express Checkout
When the iPad mini 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 iPad mini 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 iPad mini, 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 for some reason don’t to do the step above (afraid of accidentally buying more than you can afford?) 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 iPad mini 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 iPad mini preorder pages go live, you can just enter these shortcuts instead of doing a lot of typing.
Consider Using The Apple Store App
In the past, a lot of people who have been having trouble getting the Apple.com homepage to load during a preorder crush have had no issues whatsoever just loading up the official Apple Store app and preordering on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Just download the free app here and load it on up after midnight Pacific.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
In the past, iPhone and iPad preorder and launch days have been pretty stressful, but we’re hopeful that Apple will manage to satisfy iPad mini demand this time. It is, after all, an entirely new product, with no momentum demand. Judging by the third-gen iPad launch in March, Apple has finally figured out how to build enough iPads 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 iPad mini shortage. So a little prayer and superstition never hurts, does it?