Every year for the past decade, a hardcore few have jumped at the chance to spend hundreds of dollars on a telephone that most no longer to use to make actual calls. Friday marked the launch of pre-orders for the iPhone X, and it was also the first time that Apple’s flagship phone came with a starting price of $999. While the prospect of waking up early to buy something so expensive may seem odd, it was the best way of ensuring you won’t have to wait until 2018 to receive the delivery.
Apple likes to tout every phone launch as big, but the iPhone X has been marketed as something particularly special. Released 10 years after the first phone, it ditched familiar features like the home button and fingerprint scanner in favor of a big OLED screen and gesture-based controls. Its launch was the first one held at the Steve Jobs Theater, named after the Apple co-founder who died in 2011. Designer Jony Ive has described the device as “a new chapter” in iPhone history.
At 3:01 a.m. Eastern (12:01 a.m. Pacific) on October 27, pre-orders went live. This year, the stakes are higher than usual: thanks to the advanced face scanning technology that unlocks the phone in milliseconds, one analyst claims there will only be 30 million phones available before the end of the year, while a report from earlier this week placed that figure at 20 million. Apple sold 78 million phones over the same period last year. One retailer described the coming launch as a “catastrophe.”
Ten minutes after the ordering opened, customers who got up early were told their iPhone X wouldn’t arrive until late November. By late morning Friday, the wait is five to six weeks for both the 64 and 256 gigabyte models:
Although there was more pressure this year, the concept of getting up in the dead of night to spend nearly a grand on a phone has cemented itself as a thing that happens in the Apple community.
“After a mental pep talk, I plucked sleep from my eyes, booted my laptop and used the restroom,” said The Verge writer Chris Plante in his 2014 story about buying the iPhone 6. “Then I booted my wife’s laptop and our iPad Mini. I loaded AT&T’s homepage on my computer, the Apple Store on my wife’s and the Apple Store app on the Mini, because at 2:55 a.m. the idea that one, two or even three Apple devices could fail me in the purchase of another Apple device seemed logical.”
The same thing happened again this year, with exhausted Apple fans dragging themselves out of bed:
For the lucky few that get their orders in, the reward is the knowledge that their phone will arrive first:
The alternative is waiting in line at the Apple Store on launch day:
Apple plans to stock a limited number of iPhone X devices, with sales opening up at 8 a.m. local time on November 3. There’s no guarantee of a phone at the end, though, which probably explains why Friday’s pre-order event was so big.
“We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts,” an Apple spokesperson told CNet.