How to avoid waiting in line when buying your new iPhone

These tips can help you stay sane and avoid crowds when buying Apple's latest smartphones.

Dan Graziano Associate Editor / How To
Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.
Dan Graziano
3 min read

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Apple began accepting preorders for the cheaper iPhone 5C last Friday; however the iPhone 5S was not given the same treatment. The flagship smartphone will be available on Friday, September 20, and, according to some reports, it may be harder to get your hands on one than in previous years.

It has been suggested that Apple is having a difficult time keeping up with the anticipated demand for the iPhone 5S, which is said to be the reason why the company did not accept preorders.

With the iPhone 5S expected to be in short supply, lines have already begun to form at Apple Stores around the world, but there is no need to panic.

Here are a few tips for avoiding those long lines when purchasing Apple's latest iPhone:

Apple Stores
The most important rule for avoiding crowds on iPhone launch day is to steer clear of Apple Stores. The launch of a new smartphone is a celebration in Apple's eyes and loyal customers will gladly wait hours, or, in some cases, even days to get their hands on the company's latest device. Apple Stores open at 8:00 a.m. local time on Friday, so be sure to plan your morning commute accordingly.

Apple also gives users the option to select in-store pickup when ordering the iPhone online, but you may want to avoid this method. As we mentioned above, your No. 1 priority should be avoiding Apple Stores altogether.

In previous years, at least one CNET writer who opted for Apple's in-store pickup option, while guaranteed to receive a device that day, was still required to wait on a long line before picking it up.

Most carriers have also offered in-store pickup for online orders in the past, but Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile representatives have confirmed that online iPhone orders will not have this option.

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Best Buy, Walmart, and RadioShack will be offering Apple's new iPhones on September 20. These locations tend to have a decent supply and smaller crowds than carrier or Apple Stores. This may be the most convenient way to purchase a new iPhone, and you could even walk away with a nice discount. Stores are scheduled to open at 8 a.m. local time on Friday.

Another option is to visit mom-and-pop carrier stores. These authorized dealers offer the same price and service as the corporate stores, but will usually see smaller crowds and shorter to no lines.

Consumers in major metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco will face the biggest difficulties. If you are serious about getting an iPhone 5S on launch day, a short drive to the suburbs may be in order.


Not having the latest and greatest iPhone for a few days won't kill you. The only guaranteed way to avoid the crowds is to order the iPhone 5S or 5C online from Apple or your respective carrier.

Then again, you can always use a service like TaskRabbit to pay someone to wait in line for you.