Not much good has come from the COVID-19 era, but one decent development is not seeing the outside of Apple stores looking like a campsite or a Disney World line when a new iPhone is released for sale.
When the new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models became available Friday morning, Apple was proactive about avoiding crowding during COVID-19 by pushing online ordering and, for those who crave the Apple Store experience, handing out reservation forms with time slots for buyers to return.
Early arrivals were not as robust as in the past, when the first iPhone drew winding lines of hundreds in 2007 and the phenomenon grew for subsequent releases each September. On Friday, CNET reported that that Apple’s New York store on Fifth Avenue drew a socially distanced line of about 50 people, with fewer than that at the Upper West Side store.
Only those with reservations were allowed inside for the 15-minute “check-in windows” at Apple Stores, about 90% of which are open. Customers were given a bar code for their Apple Wallet and asked to check in outside the store at the specified time.
Apple required face masks and temperature checks for in-store customers. “Express storefronts” were set up for online order pickup at many stores. Apple also reduced contacts by replacing signatures on deliveries with “verbal confirmation from a safe distance.”
Some bloke in Sydney still showed up at 11:30 p.m. the night before for an Apple Store that opened at 8 a.m. In China, the push for requesting online business led to more than 500,000 pre-orders of the iPhone 12, according to CNN.
“There was a fair amount of expecting 5G to arrive (on the iPhone) last year, but it didn’t,” Canalys Vice President of Mobility Nicole Peng told CNN. “So there is pent-up demand there.”
So use that outdated iPhone 11 to call ahead and avoid any line for picking up an iPhone 12. If not this time, maybe on Nov. 13, when the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max arrive.