The phone call came at a time that seemed impossibly early, just after 3:00AM. “Mrphl,” I said. My brain’s language center was still booting up. Then I identified myself clearly, and the cheery voice on the other end reminded me that it was a T-Mobile representative, calling to make sure I got my pre-order for the new iPhone X in on time.
Unlike apparently everyone else, T-Mobile had organized the iPhone X pre-order process to the point where people who had told a sales representative that they were interested in ordering one, were called as soon after midnight, Pacific time, as possible.
I had called the sales line a couple of weeks earlier, and the same representative had told me that she would call me herself to make sure my order went through. And she did.
We went through the process that she’d obviously rehearsed. I confirmed that I wanted a Space Gray model with 256 GB. I agreed that my iPhone 7 was indeed operational (I was talking on it, after all) and that there was no damage.
By then it became clear that despite all of T-Mobile’s preparation and practice, not everything was going according to plan. T-Mobile’s point of sales computer started slowing down because of the massive number of simultaneous purchase transactions going on across the internet. The representative started apologizing as the delays in completing my order lengthened."
By the time we reached the point where I had to use DocuSign to agree to the sale, the website had stopped responding and instead of seeing the document, I was dropped into a page to start the order over again.
The representative was patient, though. I made it through the process, and my order went through. It looks like I’ll get a phone on Nov. 3, just like Tim Cook had promised when he introduced it in September.
But apparently, I was luckier than a lot of other people who tried ordering through their carriers or through the Apple Store app and they weren’t able to buy an iPhone X until the delivery window had shifted a month into the future. If you sign on to pre-order an iPhone X at the Apple website now you will be told that there’s a wait of five to six weeks. The iPhone X sold out almost immediately.
For some people who want an iPhone X there’s a chance you can successfully order one on Nov. 3 if you are prepared to stand in line and hope for the best. But Apple already expects that demand will far exceeds supply and it's advising people to show up early. Likewise there will apparently be some supplies at the carriers and some authorized resellers. But you can bet that those supplies will be severely limited.
For most people, the wait for a new iPhone X could easily stretch into 2018 even if they ordered one on Oct. 27.
Apple may have been surprised by the response to the iPhone X. While the company reportedly built around three million iPhones for this release, it seemed clear that the level of demand exceeded the company’s expectations.