How to pre-order iPhone XS and iPhone XR the right way

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The new iPhones go on sale tomorrow. Are you ready?
The new iPhones go on sale tomorrow. Are you ready?
Photo: Apple

Pre-orders for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max start tomorrow, Friday, September 14, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific, with the XR going on sale a month later. If you want to be sure of getting a new handset on Day One, you probably need to be quick with your pre-order. If not, you could be faced with waiting for Apple to fill the backlog of orders before you finally get a new iPhone sometime near Christmas.

Luckily, we have a guide to preordering your iPhone XS the right way.

How to pre-order iPhone XS

Every year, there’s a bit of a frenzy as Apple fans set out to pre-order the latest, greatest iPhones. Some models inevitably sell out within minutes.

Taking a moment right now to follow the steps below will ensure you get your best shot at snagging the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max model you want. (The iPhone XR goes on sale Oct. 19.)

Trust us — you don’t want fumble around doing some of these things in the middle of the night.

(Note: This story was originally published at 2:31 a.m. Pacific on Sept. 13.)

There’s an app for that

The new iPhones X go on sale tomorrow. Are you ready?
The new iPhones X go on sale tomorrow. Are you ready?
Photo: Apple

The best way to pre-order is to use Apple’s App Store app. This will walk you through the steps you need to take to be ready for pre-orders. If you’re just buying a handset outright with a credit card, then all you need to do is choose your iPhone model, including the color and the storage capacity you want. (Here’s a handy iPhone XS versus iPhone XR comparison that lays out the differences between the two new models.)

After you select the exact model you want, just tap the little heart icon to save it as a favorite.

Make sure your account is up-to-date

Then, make sure your Apple Store account details are up-to-date. This is crucial. Check that your credit card is valid, and that your shipping address is current. You don’t want to be filling these out against the timer at midnight, when pre-orders commence.

Unfreeze your credit

iPhone xs pre-order
This creature represents the evils of credit.
Photo: Apple

If you have your credit frozen as protection against fraud, then you may need to unfreeze it to make a big purchase. The iPhone XS will cost you a minimum of $999, so make sure you have the credit available, and that you’re all set for a credit check when you place the order.

Here are the links to the three major credit companies so you can unfreeze your credit:

Check carrier eligibility

Something something, rainy day, something.
Something something, rainy day, something.
Photo: Apple

If you have a contract with a cellphone carrier, you may or may not be eligible for an upgrade. Make sure of this ahead of time to avoid disappointment on iPhone XS pre-order day. You may have to pay a balance in order to get an upgrade. This is especially likely if you have an iPhone X. Because that handset launched in November 2017, you almost certainly have at least two months left to run on a 12-month contract.

Check your iPhone Upgrade Program status

If you use Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program to get a new iPhone every year, you should also check your eligibility. Luckily, we just published a how-to on that exact subject. In short, if you got an iPhone X on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you’ll have to pay off the outstanding two-month balance before you can upgrade.

If you’re not already in the iPhone Upgrade Program — which basically amounts to an annual subscription to the latest iPhone, with AppleCare+ insurance included — you might want to consider it. If you want to join, you should start this process now. In fact, anything related to the the iPhone Upgrade Program should be done ASAP — the deadline for getting your loan pre-approved for an upgrade is 4 p.m. Pacific today.

Set your alarm

After you’ve got all that squared away, set an alarm for just before the pre-order time. Orders begin at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Friday, which means 3:01 a.m. on the East Coast and a leisurely 9 a.m. in Europe. With all the above preparations made, you just have to open the Apple Store app, tap the little head icon to access your account, and then tap the iPhone you picked out in your favorites list. You’ll be taken to the product page, ready to place your order.

Good luck!

P.S. Want to sell your old iPhone?

If you don’t want to pass along your old iPhone to a family member or friend, you can sell it to us via the Cult of Mac buyback program. We’ll give you a fair price for your old iPhone or Apple Watch — and take all the hassles out of selling your old Apple gear.