Apple allows online reservations for in-store pickups of iPhone 5

Apple customers can now reserve their new iPhone 5 online for in-store pickup the next day at their nearest Apple Store.

For most of this first week of iPhone 5 sales, purchasers had to walk into the Apple Store and buy on a first-come, first-served basis—or wait for online orders to be delivered by mail. But as Apple Insider originally reported, customers will be able to make their purchase online starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday; stores that have reserve inventory will hold the purchase for next-day pickup.

Interestingly, Apple's website will only make those next-day reservations available for night-owl customers—people who do their purchasing between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The company hasn't explained its logic, but its assertion that "limited quantities" may be available for walk-in customers suggests that the big opening weekend of sales may have left stores with limited inventory: Some outlets may not know until the store is closed for the day how many phones will be available for next-day sale.

Purchasers who want to reserve an iPhone 5 for in-store pickup will need to do so directly with Apple. A Verizon Wireless spokesperson said that her company’s in-store sales are made on a first-come, first-served basis—online orders are delivered through the mail only. Representatives from AT&T and Sprint did not respond to inquiries; AT&T’s online FAQ, however, makes no mention of reserving a phone for in-store pickup. Similarly, Best Buy’s web site lists the different varieties of iPhone 5, but tells customers they can be purchased “in store only.”

iPhone 5 buyers who do arrange to pick up their new phone at an Apple Store should be prepapred: They must bring their old phone—if replacing it—along with their Social Security number, government-issued photo I.D., and carrier account password, if they have one.

Purchasers aren't limited to buying through Apple's website: Purchases can be arranged on an iPhone or iPad using the Apple Store app. Phones purchased online must be picked up in the store within 24 hours.

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