Apple will finally release its most advanced smartphone, the iPhone 4S, starting at 8 a.m. local time on Oct. 14. Assuming Apple continues its record-breaking ways, the company will experience unprecedented foot traffic at each of its 357 Apple Stores worldwide.
The iPhone 4S' three carriers—Apple, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint-Nextel Corp.—have all reportedly sold out of initial pre-order stock of the iPhone 4S. AT&T claims customers may wait three to four weeks for shipment, while Verizon maintains a delivery time of Oct. 21, and Sprint is simply sold out.
For those who don't want to visit a nearby Apple Store, there will be plenty of other stores selling the iPhone 4S on Oct. 14. Non-Apple retailers are offering various incentives for buying the new iPhone at their store, such as freebies and gift cards. Given that all three phone carriers will also sell the phone in stores, Apple smartphone available on three separate carriers, the iPhone 4S will be everywhere on Oct. 14. Here's the guide to getting one.
Online Apple Store: The online Apple Store is still taking pre-orders, but Apple will reportedly take one or two weeks to deliver all its one million-plus pre-orders. The online Apple Store offers phones for every carrier and free shipping, and best of all, no lines.
Physical Apple Stores: The iPhone 4S will debut at Apple's physical retail stores promptly at 8 a.m. local time on Oct. 14. Expect historically-long lines, but Apple promises to set up the phone for each paying customer and make sure it's up and running before they leave the store.
AT&T Stores: AT&T will carry the iPhone in stores on Oct. 14 at 8 a.m., the same time as Apple. An AT&T employee states that pre-orders for the iPhone 4S may take up to 28 days for delivery, so in-store pick-up may be the best option for those who can't wait to experience everything the new iPhone has to offer.
Verizon Wireless Stores: Verizon is still taking online pre-orders and will deliver around Oct. 21. However, the quickest way to get a Verizon iPhone 4S will be to visit a nearby Verizon Wireless store at 8 a.m. local time and get in line.
Sprint Stores: The company is taking no more pre-orders either in-stores or online. Instead, customers will need to get in line at Sprint stores, although employees warn of a limited quantity of available phones on the first day. If the phones sell out on Oct. 14, which is to be expected at this point, Sprint representatives recommend checking back in stores each week for new batches of the 4S that may arrive.
RadioShack: The Shack is still taking pre-orders, although certain models, like the AT&T 32 GB iPhone 4S, have sold out. However, pre-orders must be completed in-store, so customers will need to visit a RadioShack before the big day to place a pre-order. The company will follow Apple's lead and release the iPhone 4S in stores on Oct. 14 at 8 a.m.
Best Buy: Best Buy plans to sell the iPhone 4S in stores starting on Oct. 14, and has accepted pre-orders made in-store since Oct. 7. Customers will still have to visit physical Best Buy locations to secure the pre-order, but if you reserve a new iPhone 4 or 4S you also get a pair of iFrogz earbud headphones for free.
Target: The big-box retailer is staying competitive with the electronics stores by offering big discounts on trade-ins. Customers can receive up to $200 credit by trading in an iPhone 4, and can earn $120 credit by trading in an iPhone 3GS. The 3GS trade-in is an incredible deal, given that Apple now gives the phones away for free. There are two drawbacks to this option, however: That trade-in money comes in the form of a Target gift card, and Target is only guaranteeing the trade-in value to customers who pre-order, and does not guarantee the deal to walks-ins on Oct. 14.
Sam's Club: Warehouse club chain Sam's Club has allowed customers to pre-order the iPhone 4S at most locations since Oct. 11, but the phone will be available to pick up in stores on Oct. 14. The phones will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. To see if the nearby Sam's Club will carry the iPhone for your preferred carrier, visit Sam's Club's Web site and check the iPhone database.
All retailers will sell two-year plans for the phones through the various carriers, and will not sell the iPhone 4S for any less or more than Apple's set prices.
The iPhone 4S features upgraded internal processors and clocks a download speed twice as fast as the iPhone 4. The phone also has a better and faster camera, dual-core graphics, a new alternating antenna system for better sound quality and reception, and best of all, a state-of-the-art personal assistant called Siri, which helps the user create and send texts and e-mails, set up meetings and reminders, get directions, call friends, and play music.
Each iPhone 4S carrier has different advantages. Reportedly, AT&T is the best option for customers who want speed, and simultaneous talking and surfing, while Verizon offers the most reliable 3G access, and Sprint offers cheap, unlimited data.
Apple operates 245 Apple Stores in the U.S. and 112 international locations in 11 different countries, including France, Spain, Hong Kong, and China.