Line for third generation iPad at Apple Store.
Folks are already lining up at Apple Stores to join the annual party, hoping to be first on the block with the new iPhone 5. Pre-orders are sold out, and online orders placed today won't be delivered for two to three weeks. That means braving the lines at Apple Stores and other retailers is pretty much your only option, if you want the phone Friday or this weekend.
But maybe being first on the block isn't so radically important. The iPhone 5 will be just as cool in mid-October. Here are five reasons not to bother camping out for an iPhone this weekend.
1. The phone isn't that radical. Yes, the phone has been redesigned with a slightly larger (4-inch) screen and faster processor. Apple promises zippier speeds via connections to 4G LTE service from AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint. The LTE service is available in some spots, but not everywhere. Those are all great features, but they will be just as great a few weeks later, after you've ordered the phone online and waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail.
2. Competition. Your chances of getting the phone for this weekend aren't good. Apple sold 2 million iPhone 5s in its first hour of pre-order sales before pulling the plug. Odds are very good that pros will be online ahead of you -- folks who are paid to be there by foreign interests who either want to re-sell the iPhone or to make their money producing apps and need the new device as soon as possible. The iPhone 5 goes on sale Friday in the U.S. as well as in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom. It rolls out a week later to 22 more countries, including Italy, Spain and Sweden. But countries such as China, Russia and South Africa will have to wait a long time for their official iPhone 5 fix. Apple hasn't announced when the phone will be sold there. So you've got some stiff and well-heeled competition on the line.
3. Software update effectively gives you a new iPhone. On Wednesday, Apple makes available a free iOS 6 software update that gives you a new phone without you having to buy a new one. Apple promises 200 new features in the software, which includes Apple's take on Maps (goodbye, Google Maps) which offers spoken turn-by-turn directions. You also get Passbook, an app that ties together all your tickets and loyalty cards, Facebook integration and a massive improvement for the FaceTime video chat feature. Before, you could only speak in Wi-Fi hot spots. But with the new software, you can also talk over cellular signals. Get used to the new features on your old phone while you wait for the new one to arrive.
4. It's an expensive purchase. The iPhone 5 starts at $199 with a new or renewed two-year contract. If you're not eligible for an upgrade, the iPhone 5 starts at $649 and goes up to $849 for a model with 64 gigabytes of storage. That's a lot of moola to spend -- even more if you ditch work for the day to stand in line and get docked for a day's work.
5. You buy time to stock up on new power adapters. The iPhone 5 ditches the old 30-pin connector that worked on 150,000 devices -- such as car chargers and home stereos -- in favor of the new, smaller and thinner "Lightning" cable. Apple's reasoning is that the new thinner, phone required a smaller charger. Apple will try to ease the pain by offering a $29.99 adapter for the old cords, which we all have lying around the house to juice up our iPhone, iPad and iPod. So by the time your new phone arrives in the mail in early to mid-October, you'll have discovered the new software features you like, have adapters ready to charge up and dock your new phone and saved yourselves hours of strife braving the weather and crowds so you could be first on your block.
But, hey -- playing devil's advocate -- you'd be missing quite a party!