How Was Your iPhone XS Preorder Experience?

BY Evan Selleck

Published 14 Sep 2018

Years ago, I wasn’t having very good luck with online preorders. Websites not working. Carts not updating. And, in what felt like just a matter of seconds, shipping dates slipping into unwanted territory. So I swore it off.

I stuck to that for years. Whether it was video games, consoles, or, even more likely, new iPhones, it was just down to getting into a line before the device (or devices) launched and making sure I walked away with one in the near future. I’ve only ever had to wait in a line overnight once, which I’m happy about. Usually I was lucky enough to snag a spot early in line, just a few hours before the store’s doors were going to open, or before sales were about to start.

Waiting in line wasn’t great, but it never let me down.

This week I was still considering following that plan, because it had worked out so well. But at the same time I didn’t want to drive the hour it would take me to get to the nearest wireless carrier store, or the drive back for that matter. And I didn’t want to have to wake up even earlier than I already do, just to wait in a (pretty) cold line outside waiting for the store to open. What felt normal enough just a year or two ago suddenly felt like a lot of unnecessary work. After all, online preorders would go live when I would already be awake, and it’s the year 2018. It can’t all be bad anymore, right?

Hoo-boy was I wrong. It actually started off on a high note. I was sitting on the Verizon Wireless website with the iPhone XS Max on my screen, just watching the countdown clock. I had everything ready to go, the upgrade for my line ready, and just waiting for that countdown clock to switch from a timer to say “preorder”. Surprisingly enough that actually happened a couple of minutes before 12:01 AM Pacific rolled around — right at 11:58 PM Pacific, actually. And despite the fact I knew better, I knew it wasn’t going to work, I clicked that button anyway.

Everything was going smoothly. Got to the checkout screen. Clicked to finish the transaction — and then the page failed on me. Just a blank page. Safari couldn’t load the processed transaction. Okay, I thought, starting the process over at 12:01 AM rolled around, I was just early and now it’ll work. Well, it didn’t work. Verizon’s website just stopped loading the upgrade option for my line (it was loading everything else on the site just fine, unless it had a connection to the new iPhones).

So I grabbed my phone and opened the Verizon app. That was working pretty smoothly! Went through the upgrade process again, got the phone I wanted into the cart, and tapped checkout. “Oops” the next screen told me. The Big Red wireless carrier was telling me that it had run into an error on its side, so another roadblock. Another minute or so lost, with each moment so precious as so many other people were trying to do the same thing I was.

I went to Apple’s website and tried there, but I’m not an iPhone Upgrade Program member and I didn’t want to sign up. So even though the website seemed to be working and I could get through to the cart, I never found out if it would actually finish the process. I hope it did for all the other folks out there.

We are all in this ridiculous struggle together, even if it is a competition to see who can actually secure their device for a delivery date on launch day.

After trying the Verizon app over and over again, and stalling on the website itself, I finally called — and that process took all of five minutes total. I got the phone I wanted, the ship date confirmed for next Friday, and . . . that was it. Had a friendly conversation as part of the deal, too! I hung up the phone a half hour after Apple’s pre-order window went live and I’m not getting the phone two weeks (or longer) after launch.

Was it worth not waiting in line next week? Probably. Will I try to pre-order releases like this online again? Probably not. If nothing else, last night’s escapade showed me that talking with someone over the phone is about as simple as it gets, and I don’t need to wait in a line to get it done.

But that’s how it went for me. What about you? If you preordered Apple’s iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, let me know which model you went with, and tell me how the process went for you. Was it super smooth without any hitches? Or did you have a bit of an adventure like me?