Buying an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max is difficult right now, and according to Apple it's only going to get worse. But it isn't impossible.
Apple says that supply issues will mean that people have to wait longer to get their hands on a new iPhone, specifically the Pro models. Anyone trying to order one in the United States right now looks set for a multi-week wait, and getting hold of one in a store is almost impossible unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
But I managed to walk into my local Apple Store and walk back out with a Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro Max last week, despite Apple's website saying none were in stock.
The iPhone Upgrade Program trick
We've all heard of the iPhone Upgrade Program, and it's a great way to buy an iPhone. It lets buyers pay monthly and then give the handset back and pick up a new one every year. It's a no-brainer for a lot of people, but it doesn't work for everyone for a variety of reasons. But you can use the program to your advantage even if you don't intend to use it.
Here's what I did — and the process might differ slightly depending on the country you're in. I'm in the UK, and it worked well enough for me to get an iPhone five weeks sooner than Apple said I could.
Let me set the scene. I'd taken to checking local pick-up stock because I'd been told that Apple's website updated with new in-store stock levels every morning — around 07:30am, if you're wondering. I checked and no stock was to be found.
Except, when I checked to see if stock was available for those on the iPhone Upgrade Program, there was an iPhone 14 Pro Max with 256GB of storage just waiting to be picked up. It turns out, at least in this instance and at my local store, that the Apple Store either keeps some stock back for iPhone Upgrade Program buyers or at the very least has two different stock lists. Whatever the reason, the fact remained that I couldn't reserve an iPhone for collection unless I chose the iPhone Upgrade Program.
I decided to try my luck and made the reservation.
My Apple Store slot came a few hours later and sure enough, my iPhone 14 Pro Max was ready and waiting for me. When asked if I wanted to set up myself up on the iPhone Upgrade Program I asked if I could just buy the thing instead. The Apple Store employee said I could, no questions asked.
I walked out with the best iPhone Apple makes without the weeks-long wait, feeling mildly guilty as I went. But also a little bit smitten with that Deep Purple.
So there we have it. If your Apple Store says it has no iPhone 14 stock and you don't want to wait, check if stocks are available for the iPhone Upgrade Program as well. You never quite know your luck.
Hopefully this isn't something people will need to rely on for too much longer, though. Apple says that it's working with suppliers like Foxconn to try and get supply to the point where it can keep up with demand. But ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, affecting the world's biggest iPhone plant, aren't going to make that easy.
If you need an iPhone this holiday season, this trick might just get you sorted out sooner rather than later.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.