Update: September 12, 2018: Pre-orders for the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max will begin on September 14. The phones will ship on September 21. The new iPhone Xr will not be available to pre-order until October 19 and will ship on October 26.
This piece was originally published on September 11, 2018.
There's one thing about new Apple phone launches that almost no other consumer tech company can currently claim: Pre-orders of its latest iPhones are a full-on online race that rivals the sale of Beyoncé tour tickets. Both require you to be online and ready to go, hitting refresh on repeat in the seconds counting down to the official on-sale time. Don't believe us? Last year, pre-orders for the iPhone X sold out in mere minutes.
Apple has not yet announced when its new iPhone lineup will go on sale. However, the big unveiling will take place tomorrow, September 12. If the company sticks with tradition, you can expect pre-orders to begin on Friday, September 14, at 3:01 a.m. (If the middle of the night timing seems odd, remember that Apple is based in California, where it will be just past midnight.)
Ahead, all of steps you should take now to make sure you're prepped and ready to shop if you're aiming to pre-order a new iPhone in a few days time. (Note to self: keep your phone by the bed.)
The intense volume of web traffic during previous pre-order has caused the Apple website to crash and experience unexpected delays. To avoid both, go the safer route and shop via the Apple Store app.
Prior to pre-orders, make sure to tap the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner and check that your primary payment and shipping information is up to date. You don't want a change of address to slow you down when it's time to buy.
Research trade in options ahead of time
When you're checking out via the app, Apple asks, "do you have a smartphone to trade in?" In theory, this is a good thing: It's a way to get money to put towards your shiny new phone. But it can also take time to go through the necessary steps.
Make sure to look up if you're eligible for an upgrade in advance and compare the trade-in values at different websites to determine which gives you the best deal. Note: You don't need to have an iPhone to take advantage of this.
Don't rely on making a game-time color decision
There are three basics you need to know when pre-ordering: Which new iPhone do you want? (This year, there will reportedly be three options to choose from.) What color do you want it in? (There may be blue and gold versions.) And, finally, which storage size is best for you? Make sure you make your picks before pre-orders begin, since deciding in the moment will only slow you down.
When deciding on storage size, head to your current iPhone's Settings > General > About and look at what your current storage capacity is and how much space you have available. This will help you know whether you need to go up in size, or if you can stick with a smaller, less expensive version.
Know how you want to pay
When checking out, you're given three payment choices: A one-time, pay in full option (which does not include AppleCare+ coverage, but you can add it for $199 before checking out), a monthly payment program with your carrier (also does not include AppleCare+ coverage), or a monthly Apple iPhone upgrade payment program option (which includes AppleCare+ coverage). All the payment options work with your carrier, but the monthly options also include the flexibility to upgrade to a new iPhone every year. Choose ahead which of the plans you prefer.
Have carrier information on hand
In the final step before checking out, Apple will ask you if you want to "prepare for carrier activation now" or "activate with your carrier later." The latter is the faster option, but will require a few extra steps on your part when your phone arrives. If you want to activate your iPhone during the pre-order process, know that it will take a bit longer and you will need to have your carrier account username and password ready. If you're on a family plan, this means you should call mom and dad to get it the day before — and not in the middle of the night.
Take the final steps
To check out in full, tap Bag on the bottom toolbar, and select "buy with Apple Pay", which is the fastest route, instead of "buy with other payment options". To make sure your Apple Pay is set up with the correct credit card, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay.
With that, you're done! Return to bed with the satisfaction of knowing you'll beat the lines come the official on-sale day.