Sep. 20, 2012 at 6:18 PM ET
If you didn't stay up until 3 a.m. to pre-order an iPhone 5 last week, you were probably too late to get one confirmed for shipment by Friday morning. So what do you do now?
There's no magical solution that'll get you an iPhone 5 instantly, but there are ways to improve your chances of touching a shiny slab of glass and aluminum in days rather than weeks.
Since the lines in front of Apple stores are rather long — and continually growing — at this point, they might not be your best bet. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives.
"There are three ways to get an iPhone from Sprint," points out Sprint's Michelle Leff Mermelstein: Retail locations, telesales line and website. The same situation applies for AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the other U.S. carriers which offer the iPhone.
If the answer you get online or by calling a carrier's sales hotline doesn't suit you, or involves a shipping date which is too far out — like the one you'll see on the Apple website — you're gonna need to lace up your boots and pound the pavement.
"The iPhone 5 will be available in AT&T retail stores beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, Sept. 21," AT&T's Seth Bloom reminds us. So start your quest for Apple gold before the sun rises.
Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney suggests that you should not only get to a store early, but also strategize as to which store you will visit.
"Select a store away from the center of the city or places where commuters and shoppers congregate," she told NBC News. "A stand-alone store on the outskirts of town may be a better bet than the one in a mall."
Experience teaches us that stores in unpopular areas tend to receive a smaller shipment of iPhones in the first place, so it's worth calling ahead before you drive out into the middle of nowhere. And don't forget that the carriers' retail locations aren't the only alternatives to Apple's own stores — Walmart, Target, Best Buy and RadioShack will offer the iPhone as well.
And if all of that strategizing fails? Then you might as well just sit back down, head to Apple's site, and order an iPhone which will be delivered in three to four weeks.
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