By Kevin Chupka
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. OK, I admit it. And my problem is Apple (AAPL). I have been an early adopter of several iterations of both the iPhone and iPad and so, despite a genuine attempt to sit on the sidelines for today's iPhone 5 release, like any good junkie, I caved.
I've done the line at the Apple store before and it's certainly a shared experience worth having for any true Apple fanboy or girl. The employees do a great job of making it an event and getting you excited about your new toy. Still, once you have the experience, you soon realize there's a better way. For most, it's preordering. If you're willing to get up in the middle of the night and risk computer glitches, it's probably the safest bet to get your gadget the day it's released.
I, however, was on the fence about buying the latest and greatest Apple phone until today, and so when I did decide to take the plunge, I was left with fewer options that would allow me to have the phone in my hands right now.
Straight to Verizon
There's always the option of walking to a brick and mortar Apple store, or a Best Buy (BBY) or Target (TGT), but that seems to be where everyone else goes to satisfy their craving. Instead, in order to be a bit different, I went straight to Verizon (VZ).
There were about 20-30 people in front of the store on 42nd Street in Manhattan when I walked by at 7:00 a.m. I opted to let the crowd disperse and arrived at around 11:15am. I was the only one in line outside the store. I asked the Verizon employee out front if they still had stock left. He told me I could have my pick of any color and any size iPhone; they had plenty.
I filled out a simple form letting the sales folks know exactly what I had intended to purchase, and after about 5 minutes a sales associate came up to me and asked which color phone I wanted. She then directed me to the cashier's counter. Minutes later I was walking out with a brand new iPhone 5. It was shockingly easy for a phone that had such a high preorder demand.
A Hassle-Free Experience
It left me wondering why my experience was so hassle free. Apple gets all the press for people waiting in line overnight, and perhaps that drives customers to their stores. The process for actually buying the phone is no different. I can only assume Verizon is so fast because there are simply less people that show up there. Either that or I simply got lucky.
Still, I'll be honest: After going through the process today, I'm happy to have a brand new phone. But I actually missed the crazy Apple store experience, just a little bit.
As for the phone itself, my very first thought was that all the hype about the weight was spot on. It really is noticeably lighter. Second, the screen is brilliant. The leap to the retina display that came along with the iPhone 4 was a game changer. The iPhone 5 takes that quality and simply gives you more of it via the larger display. It means I now have to decide which apps are worthy enough to be upgraded to the home screen's extra row.
Next up, I'll be spending the weekend playing with the phone, testing speed and deciding whether or not I really need an adapter for the phone's new power cord.
I can't wait.