Around 3 a.m. Eastern last Friday, Apple began accepting preorders for its coveted new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. But as many potential customers discovered, actually getting the phone by September 16 has proven to be difficult. Even people who tried to order the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus right after 3:00 a.m. found their shipping date was estimated to be October or later. Is there any chance of still getting an iPhone 7 on September 16, especially the Jet Black one? [UPDATE: As of early morning on September 16, around 2 a.m. Eastern, Verizon Customer Service was reporting that its stores would likely have some iPhone 7 Plus models in stock, although in limited supply. Read one of the tweets on the topic here. On Reddit, some people reported that AT&T might have some too.]
Here’s what you need to know.
Try the Upgrade Program Online
For most customers, Apple is no longer taking reservations online for buying an iPhone in the Apple store on September 16. (You can still order one online for shipment on a later date.) However, if you want to use Apple’s upgrade program, then you can still reserve an iPhone 7 online to pick up in an Apple store on September 16. Here’s the link.
You’ll have to be eligible for the Upgrade Program to order a phone this way, and it can be difficult to tell ahead of time who is eligible and who is not. Some customers were reporting that they were denied even though they had great credit, while others who said they had awful credit were still able to get in. Your credit will register a “hard pull” when you apply for the program.
If you want to see if it’s worth a try, then go to the pre-order link, choose your state, and then choose an Apple store near you. Next, choose if you want an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Then choose which carrier you are with (not all stores will have availability with all carriers.) Next choose the storage size you prefer; the sizes still available will not be grayed out. Finally, pick your desired color.
We checked a number of locations in multiple states and found that stores in smaller, less frequented malls still had iPhone 7 Plus models in 128GB still available for pickup on September 16 in multiple colors, but not in jet black. However, you should check multiple stores in your region, since availability varies from store to store. One customer on Reddit reported that they were able to reserve a Rose Gold iPhone 7 Plus for the 16th at around 8 p.m. Eastern on September 9, using the iPhone Upgrade Program pre-order link.
There’s also a possibility, although slight, that online stock will change between now and the 16th. So check back online periodically, in case more phones are in stock or someone cancelled an order. On Reddit, one customer reported that there were no models at his local store at 4:30 a.m., but a few hours later they had every model. Another customer shared that he was able to get a 32GB iPhone 7 Plus Gold around 5:30 p.m. Eastern on September 9.
Check With Your Local Store In Person
Sometimes you might have better luck if you check with your local store in person, or call them, rather than trying to order online. This is especially true for carrier stores, like Sprint or Verizon or AT&T. On Reddit, one customer reported that on the evening of Friday, September 9, they were able to visit their local Sprint store and pre-order an iPhone 7+ in Matte Black, 32GB. In their case, the phone will be available the first week of release, but not necessarily on launch day itself.
Visit Your Local Store on September 16
If you weren’t able to snag a phone to pick up on Friday, September 16, you can try to buy one in person on that day. Local Apple stores and phone carriers will have extra iPhone 7 models in stock for customers who just want to come in and buy a phone upfront without purchasing it online. Just remember, there will be a very long line and limited phones in stock (especially if you want a Jet Black phone or if you’re buying from a carrier store like Sprint or Verizon.) You may want to call the store ahead of time to see if they can let you know how many they’ll have in stock and what time they’re opening. Then get in line very, very early. In most cases, a few hours early probably won’t be soon enough. You may need to line up around midnight or even earlier than that if you’re wanting a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus. Talk to your local store and ask them what the lines have been like in the past for launch day.
If you ordered a phone but were given a shipping date later than September 16, there’s still a chance that you might get your phone earlier. In past years, some customers have received their phones earlier than the estimated shipping date. One customer with Sprint reported that they were given a shipping estimate of the 30th, but told on the phone that it might arrive on the 16th. So you might want to call your local store to see if your phone could arrive earlier than the shipping date. Just remember, the likelihood that this will happen is probably slim.
If You’re in the iPhone Upgrade Program, More iPhone Reservations for the 16th Are Available
Here’s some new good news. If you’re in the iPhone upgrade program, Apple has emailed many members letting them know that new reservations are now available for getting an iPhone 7 on September 16. Upgrade customers had a lot of technical problems with pre-orders last Friday and Apple’s working to fix that. Many people are receiving emails alerting them that if they confirm their eligibility with the program, they may be able to reserve an iPhone 7 at their nearest store. (However, Jet Black iPhones are still not available.) Here’s the email that customers are getting. If you get this email and reserved a phone that you don’t really want, you can cancel your reservation so you can access newly available iPhone 7 stock at nearby Apple stores. You’ll be taking a risk by canceling your reservation, so you might want to call your Apple store first to make sure your store has new phones in stock.
Getting an iPhone 7 Plus on September 16 at this point is tough, but not impossible. The chances of picking up at Jet Black one are slim, but your best option is probably waiting in line very early starting the night before launch day. But you can still get the iPhone 7 model that you want, you just may need to wait a little bit longer.