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Apple expands 'Express' store plans ahead of iPhone 12 launch

The tech giant is about to launch its biggest product during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apple's stores are changing amid the coronavirus.
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET
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Apple is expanding a new store design meant to help protect employees and shoppers ahead of an expected massive iPhone 12 launch. The new format, called "express," puts plexiglass-protected sales counters in front with a wall of accessories and products behind them. Customers then schedule appointments to pick up orders or fix their devices.

The new design will likely help the tech giant navigate managing its stores during what's expected to be a busy holiday shopping season. Apple, which has been testing the new design in some stores, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters earlier reported the news.

Now playing: Watch this: Our in-depth review of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Apple's been careful to open and close stores as the coronavirus pandemic flared up across the country. The virus has infected at least 41 million people around the world and killed more than 1.1 million.

The new store plans come as Apple prepares to launch the iPhone 12, featuring a new design and newly added 5G wireless technology. CNET's Patrick Holland said in his review that the device is "one of our highest-rated phones of all time." Early customers appear to agree, with one analyst saying initial preorders appeared to have doubled over last year's launch.

Though Apple fans may be excited about the device, and Apple's changing the format of its stores, CNET's Roger Cheng recommends ordering online. "Waiting in the usual hyped-up Apple store line isn't worth the risk of getting the coronavirus," he wrote. "Skip the stores."