It's the big day! The iPhone 4S - the least-disappointing disappointment ever - goes on sale today nationwide. If you didn't preorder your iPhone 4S, it may be a bit of a scramble to get one in your hot little hands today. Never fear, though; we have a few suggestions on where you might land one:
Apple Stores: Apple stores nationwide will throw open their doors bright and early at 8 a.m. Be prepared for the obligatory, hundreds-long iLine, since this will be the retail destination of choice for most Apple fans. We advise bringing 6 to 8 of your closest techie buddies, lawn chairs, a cooler, and possibly a blow-up palm tree to help you cope with the sea of humanity standing between you and your shiny new phone. Stick with it; once you're in, you'll have the chance to add AppleCare+ to your purchase, which offers two years of coverage on technical support and accidental damage. Possible fun factor: 4 out of 5 apples, possibly a 5, depending on what's in the cooler and if your local store has throngs of employees cheering you like a marathon finalist as you leave.
Wireless carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint will all be rolling out the iPhone 4S too. Most likely, these will also be extremely crowded, but if you need go because you're starting a new plan, breaking your old contract, etc., be sure to check the hours of operation, since times at different locations may vary. Possible fun factor: 3 out of 5 apples.
Radio Shack: Radio Shacks will be stocking quantities outside of their preorder stock, but not much. If you plan on trying your luck at Radio Shack, be sure to ask your sales associate about the option to trade in your iPhone 4. Depending on what kind of shape your 4 is in, you can get a decent amount of credit applied to your new 4S. Select stores will be open at 8 a.m. today to offer the 4S on all three carriers. Possible fun factor: 3 out of 5 apples. Points for the trade-in credit option, points off for the distinct possibility they may run out before you get there.
Best Buy: Best Buy will also be offering the iPhone 4S on Sprint, Verizon and AT&T, but most of their stock is actually going to their pre-orderers, who are picking up their phones in-store. According to CNET, Best Buy will be reserving a small number of phones for those without pre-orders, but given that the retailer was taking preorders up until yesterday, chances of landing one as a walk-in are looking slim. If you do decide to go to Best Buy, keep in mind that, like Radio Shack, they also credit you value for your traded-in iPhone 4, but they also accept earlier models as well. Check out their Trade-In Estimator tool for an idea of what you can expect back. Possible fun factor: 2 out of 5 apples. Points off for extreme unlikelihood of being able to walk-in and purchase.
Target: For those of us who are disinclined to rise before the sun to wait in line, Target's mobile department opens at 11 a.m., so sleep in a little. Target will also be selling their stock - available on all carriers - to preorder customers first, with any remaining inventory being offered to walk-ins. Target also offers trade-in credit with their NextWorth program, but beware: you have to speak to an employee in-store to lock in your trade-in credit value. Possible fun factor: 2 out of 5 apples. Points both on and off for the late start Target employees are getting, points off for their inconvenient trade-in system.
***NB: 5 out of 5 apples rating reserved exclusively for pre-orders.