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Friday, September 14, 2012

It's 3 a.m. -- just gimme my iPhone!

Apple Inc.
This is the black version -- there's also white -- of Apple's iPhone 5.

If you listened to our podcast from earlier in the week, you know that I wasn't surprised by any aspect to Apple's soon-to-be-released iPhone 5. When they announced it on Wednesday in San Francisco, they revealed a bunch of details already leaked to and/or reported on by tech sites and blogs.

We knew it would be taller than last year's model, the iPhone 4S.

We knew it would be thinner.

New, smaller dock connector. Headphone jack moved to the bottom. LTE yes. NFC no.


I was underwhelmed. And, you know if you checked out the podcast, I was buying one the first chance I got.

Hey, I've got an iPhone 4 from 2010, and I'm a new-phone-every-two-years guy. I want to keep up with the tech, man.

And this phone will be better -- much better -- than mine. It's got more power under the hood, and I'm especially looking forward to the supposedly improved 8-megapixel camera. I take a lot of photos with my phone, the 5 megapixel shots I'm currently taking aren't cutting it.

Sure, I could have gone to another phone. Android phones are hugely popular, but I just don't like the operating system and the unpredictable software-update schedule that come with those phones. The new Windows Phone 8 system intrigues me much more, but it's unproven and far behind in terms of available apps.

Plus, even though I don't have a Mac computer, I've bought into the Apple ecosystem. I also have an iPad 2, an Apple TV and two other AirPlay speaker locations in my house. Despite its occasional choppiness, I love Apple's wireless system for music playback.

So, despite Apple not going out on a limb with innovations when it comes to its flagship mobile device in recent years (sorry, Siri), the iPhone still makes the most sense for me.

And if I'm buying a new gadget, I want it now. I want it, like, yesterday. But I'm not interested in standing in line at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst with a bunch of weirdos waiting to buy the phone Sept. 21 at the Apple store when it goes on sale at 8 a.m.

Thus, I did the most logical thing: I sent an alarm to get me up at 2:50 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14, so I could make one of the first online pre-orders when Apple started taking them at 3 a.m. (midnight Pacific). That would ensure that I would get it on or around Sept. 21.

(Yes, if you're keeping score, waiting in line makes you ridiculous but waking up in the middle of the night from a dead sleep to order a phone via your computer, makes you rad and cool. Got it? Good.)

I wasn't worried about how it would go. After all, this wasn't my first 3 a.m. Apple rodeo. In March 2011, I awoke at the same time to preorder what would become my beloved iPad. I had no trouble getting to the "Store" part of and buying the device with a combination of my credit cards and a bunch of gift cards.

So, despite an energy-sucking cold virus, I dragged myself from my bed at about 2:55, ready to rock, roll and order. But -- gasp -- at 3 a.m., I kept getting this message -- in an annoying selection of languages -- that the store was down and would be right back. Same thing at 3:01. At 3:05. At, gulp, 3:10. I thought Apple just wasn't ready to take the orders, but I now believe they were overwhelmed with orders and the site was struggling.

Mainly for something to do, I went on Twitter. And saw that a couple of tech journalists and sites I follow were tweeting about problems with the site but that the Apple Store iPhone app seemed to be working for folks. The app! Of course! There's an app for that!

Pulled out my iPhone -- somewhat groggily recognizing the irony that it otherwise would have never occurred to me to use it in this situation -- and was able to get farther along in the process. Very carefully, through my three-hours-of-sleep haze, I made sure I selected the right model of phone on the right carrier.

That was relatively easy, but changing where the phone would be shipped to applying my lone giftcard to the balance seemed to be off the table. There was also some mention of an activation fee I feel strongly I shouldn't have to pay as someone staying with his carrier. But whatever. At that point I probably would have agreed to buy a $2,500 computer if it meant I could also have the phone.

As much as it would have pained me not to be among the first to have this phone, to be able to annoyingly show it off to people before they or their friends have it, I would have been OK waiting until the daylight hours to buy the phone. That is, did I not believe the initial stock would sell out -- it did -- and did I not have a temporary quote to sell my iPhone 4 for $160, effectively knocking that amount off the purchase price. When I woke up this morning -- and after confirming that I did in fact order what I thought I did and that it should arrive in about a week -- I learned that shipping estimates had bumped to two to three weeks, a time sure to increase as the hours went along.

So, despite a few bumps in the road, this story has a happy ending. And there's something very important that I want you to take away from all of this: Those folks waiting in line at Legacy Village on Sept. 21 are total weirdos.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures


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