iPhone 6 preorders plagued with problems

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If you preordered an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus without any trouble last night, congratulations: You were one of the lucky few.

Apple, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon began taking orders for the new phones, which hit store shelves Sept. 19, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific/3:01 a.m. Eastern. The process is the same as it always was: Stay awake (or wake up insanely early) and spend an hour trying to get through the ordering process without punching your computer in frustration. But this year, preordering the iPhone was especially infuriating.

The Apple Store was reportedly down for up to two hours in some parts of the country—same for Sprint and T-Mobile. Verizon and AT&T’s sites were spotty. Some customers preordered without a problem, while others couldn’t add the phone to their carts. Verizon and Sprint were battling each other for your iPhone 6 with competing deals, which may have increased demand.

The Apple Store iOS app turned out to be the best way to preorder without severe problems. Anecdotally, my partner bought an iPhone 6 Plus through the app after waiting (and refreshing) 45 minutes for the Apple Store to come back up. AT&T was also down during that time. Using the iOS app wasn’t a completely seamless experience: He said it took three tries to get past the color and service provider selections. Macworld Executive Editor Susie Ochs also tried the Apple Store app and had success after about a half hour.

Some of our Twitter followers also managed to sneak in their preorders on the Apple Store iOS app, while others struggled for the better part of an hour to buy phones on their carriers’ websites.

Presumably, starting preorders at such a late hour will keep demand from overwhelming the sites, but that strategy clearly isn’t working. I preordered the gold iPhone 5s last year, and the process was disastrous—I also received my phone three weeks after launch date. There has to be a better way. If you decided to wait out the initial craze and preorder this morning, the shipping date for both phones is now 3-4 weeks out in the Apple Store.

In happier news, Apple also rolled out an in-store pickup option this year for online preorders, according to 9to5Mac. That option depends on your local store’s stock, so it might not work for everyone, but it could be a better option than waiting a month for your phone to ship.

Did you preorder a new phone or give up and go back to bed? Share your tales of woe with us.

Update: Apple told Re/code that there were a "record number of preorders overnight" for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which explains why reserving a phone was such a headache. Preorders for the larger model are now showing delayed shipping dates into October across Apple and all carrier websites, while the iPhone 6 may still ship on Sept. 19, depending on where you preorder.

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