The new iPhone hits shelves on Friday, and that usually means fans lining up outside Apple Stores around the world.
But like almost everything else in 2020, iPhone launch day is going to look different this year.
Apple’s retail operations have taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, and although the company says almost all its stores around the world have reopened, crowding around and inside stores is still risky.
The process to acquire Apple’s latest device in person, as a result, is more complicated this year. If you are looking to get your hands on the new smartphone as soon as possible, here are your options.
Go to the Apple Store
Lining up is still a possibility at some Apple (AAPL) stores, though many are now closed to walk-ins because of pandemic restrictions.
For the die-hard fans who want to walk over and line up — six feet apart — outside the store, the company says it will implement a reservation system whereby customers will be notified to come back at a particular time to get in, kind of like waiting for your meal to be ready at a fast food restaurant.
But depending on demand, that wait could be much longer. Apple may give you a time slot to come back on another day if there are too many people in front of you.
Make an appointment to pick it up
The iPhone 12 — like other recent models — is available to purchase on Apple’s website, and the company is offering the option of buying the device online and making an appointment to pick it up in the store at a specific time.
Apple implemented this option earlier this year, as it reopened some stores after closing them due to the pandemic, to prevent too many people from showing up to the store at once.
The company’s website currently shows Apple Store pickup as unavailable at several retail outlets. If you see this for your local store it means you either wait for it to be delivered in a few weeks or head to the store and take your chances.
For those who want some professional guidance before shelling out for the iPhone 12, Apple will also offer the option of making an appointment to see a “specialist” — either in person or virtually — who can walk you through the various models and find the best fit. According to Apple’s website, however, customers in major cities such as New York and San Francisco may have to wait until Monday to get the next available appointment.
Apple is also expanding a new store format called Express Storefront, a smaller kiosk next to some stores where users can pick up online orders without entering the store.
Get it delivered
Of course, you don’t even have to go into the store.
Online pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have been open since October 12, and pre-orders for the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will start on November 6.
According to Apple’s website, phones ordered online this week will be delivered in early November.