The best way to buy the new Apple TV in the US

What's the fastest way to order your Apple TV 4K? Here are your options.

Apple will launch a new version of the Apple TV, one that supports 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, on September 22, with pre-orders opening up on September 15. There are a few options for getting it into your hands as soon as possible.

The best overall

Apple Store app

While it's more difficult to add credit card information while you're checking out, everything about buying in the Apple Store app is a better experience than Apple's Online store. The speed and convenience of the app likely outweighs the one notable advantage the the online store has for most people.

Bottom line: If you want to get out, make your purchase, and get right on with your life, the Apple Store app is the way to go.

Why it's the best

When it comes to the app, the primary advantages are convenience and speed. You don't have to deal with web pages loading or failing to load. You can get to the Apple TV model that you want in just a couple of taps, quickly access your favorites, and if you know what credit or debit card you're using, just tap Buy and you're done. Just like the online store, the app also supports Apple Pay and paying with Apple gift cards.

You can grab the Apple Store app from the App Store for free.

Best flexibility

Apple Online Store

What the Apple Online Store gives you is flexibility, particularly in terms of payment. It's a lot easier to add a credit card on the fly, even if you don't have it as one of your saved payment methods on your Apple ID. If you've got other cards in your Keychain, it's easy enough to pick one of them and autofill the information. If you need that sort of utility, you should definitely use the online store.

And just like the app, the Apple Online Store support paying with gift cards. You can also use Apple Pay by authenticating your purchases through an iOS device or Apple Watch, or using Touch ID if you have it set up on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Bottom line: If you want a little more flexibility than the app provides when it comes time to check out, ordering through Apple.com is probably your best bet.

See at Apple

You forgot to pre-order, didn't you?

Apple Retail Store, in person

The Apple TV 4K launches September 22, and it'll be (at least theoretically) available at Apple Stores on that date. If you missed the pre-order window, you'll want to check out the nearest Apple Store to see if there are any available.

If you're taking note of the date, September 22, yes, that is the same day as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus launch. There are likely to be quite a few people in line trying to get iPhones. If you're looking to get an Apple TV 4K on day one, I'd honestly line up with them, rather than hoping that your store has units in stock later in the day. That way, you have the best chance of snagging one.

Bottom line: With Apple TVs, you might actually have a decent shot at grabbing one on launch day from your local Apple Store. Just make sure that you get to the store early enough so that you're not so far back in line that you don't see the inside of the store until lunch.

Best third-party seller

Target

If you're looking for a solid third-party option, Target will have the Apple TV 4K available. The company advertises that both the 32GB and 64GB models of the Apple TV will be available for shipping on launch day. You should also be able to order the Apple TV for pickup from a local Target store if you don't want to wait for shipping.

See at Target

Best Buy

Like Target, Best Buy will also be selling both the 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs, with availability currently listed for September 22, launch day. Also just like Target, if you've got a local Best Buy, you should be able to order the Apple TV for personal pickup as well as delivery.

See at Best Buy

Bottom line: If you've gone through all other pre-order options and don't want to wait in line at the Apple Store, Target and Best Buy might just have the Apple TV 4K in stock on launch day (I was able to walk in and get a fourth-generation Apple TV on launch day from my local Best Buy back in 2015, for instance). They're also much more plentiful than Apple Stores, so you might have a better chance of getting to a Target or Best Buy in time to grab a new Apple TV.

Conclusion

Apple Store app

While it's more difficult to add credit card information while you're checking out, everything about buying in the Apple Store app is a better experience than Apple's Online store. The speed and convenience of the app likely outweighs the one notable advantage the the online store has for most people.