The morning of Friday, Sept. 20
5:32 a.m.: I wake up and check my computer. The gold iPhone 5s is the only model sold out on Apple’s website and listed to ship in October. Standing in line today may be the only chance I have if I want that color… and I do, I think.
6:02 a.m.: I kiss my sleeping girlfriend and leave my apartment just as the sun is beginning to come up on the horizon. I immediately start to wonder what I’d do if I need to pee in line.
6:13 a.m.: The subway seems unusually packed this morning. Is everyone here planning to buy an iPhone? What if they all get in line before me… OH GOD I GOTTA HURRY
6:17 a.m.: One young woman bursts out of the subway doors like it was a starting gate. She’s definitely getting in line.
6:28 a.m.: I’ve arrived at the Verizon Store. There are seven people ahead of me. At the AT&T store across the street I see about five people. I remember sitting in front of that store two years ago waiting for the 4S to come out. The excitement was palpable at the time compared to today; it makes sense, since a personal assistant is sexier to more people than a security feature, even if it’s a high-tech fingerprint reader.
6:31 a.m.: Just realized there’s a Sprint store directly across from where I’m standing. There’s nobody standing in line… yep, that’s definitely Sprint.
6:36 a.m.: Somebody just showed up at Sprint’s storefront. Aaaaaand he works there — he’s unlocking the door now. Did he just start crying?
6:45 a.m.: Two Verizon employees just walked out of the store with a series of barriers to basically create a wall between the line, protecting us from the non-iPhone-fanatic public.
7:34 a.m.: Finally looking up from my phone, the line has grown very long behind me. Meanwhile, there is still nobody standing in front of Sprint.
7:35 a.m.: My IBTimes colleague Luke tells me the Apple Store near him in New Jersey sold out of gold within the first group. He says he’s in the second group, and he’s been standing there since 3:30 a.m. Yikes. He wishes me luck since I still plan on getting the gold 5s, though I’ve been constantly changing my mind about the color since its unveiling.
7:43 a.m.: The Verizon manager steps outside the store to announce there is NO gold — at all. As he walks down the line, I give him “the nod” to let him know I want to be talked to.
“So what’s going on? No gold at all, I hear?”
“Yeah, it’s true. Apple didn’t send us any gold — same with AT&T and Sprint. No carriers got any gold for today.”
I ask the manager for a pen and after several minutes of consulting my phone, surveying the Internet’s surprisingly limited images of the various iPhone 5s colors, I change my color preference on the Verizon order card from “gold” to “space grey.”
8:00 a.m.: Right on time, the Verizon manager opens the doors and quickly loses count of the people that file in. As part of the first group of 10 people, I walk into the store and see a big clump of red t-shirt-wearing Verizon employees greeting customers. Each customer pairs off with a Verizon employee like some high-tech mating ritual, and I’m the last person to find mine: Marquia.
8:09 a.m.: Of course there’s an issue. After walking back and forth several times to one of the store’s managers, Marquia says the price I’d pay is around $800, but I thought that was unusually high. But after some very complicated and long-winded math regarding the early termination fee, the final $300-400 range sounds about right. I swipe my credit card and Marquia takes my new space grey iPhone 5s out of its box and sets up the phone number. She says it’s the first iPhone 5s she’s held; I give her a moment.
8:17 a.m.: After many awkward attempts to transfer the contacts on my iPhone 5 to my 5s, Marquia gives up and I assure her it’s alright — I’m just happy to leave at this point. Then I see Marquia’s problem: The phone is most definitely frozen. Great start, 5s. I power it off and turn it back on — everything’s okay.
8:29 a.m.: Back at the office, I sit at my desk and remove my laptop to immediately start synching my phone to pull in my contacts, settings and apps. As I wait, I look online to see if anyone else had succeeded in getting a gold iPhone. I search everywhere and find nothing. NOTHING. Not even on Twitter, and Twitter always has a little bit of everything. Talk about elusive. I quickly push out a story about exactly how “grotesquely unavailable” the gold iPhone 5s was this morning.
In retrospect, I’m glad Verizon didn’t have the gold iPhone. Sure it’s beautiful, but I’ve really come to love the subtlety of the space grey model. The gold color is a superficial distraction from all the good stuff that lies underneath.