It wouldn't be September without a late night spent hitting refresh on your browser window trying to buy the new iPhone. And so here we are again, as preorders are now live on Apple's site. You can also preorder online with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile (who makes you call in, which is insane), with shipments beginning on September 25th. As of this writing, you can't grab your new phone from Apple's website, which doesn't have a preorder option yet. An even better idea, as my colleague Chris Ziegler points out, is to do so through the Apple Store iOS app. The app is known to be more reliable than the website, which around now is being crushed by a mountain of traffic.
Update: Read the iPhone 6S review.
If you do use the Apple Store app, know that there may be a bit of wonkiness involved. Earlier today, Apple's site actually experienced a brief period of down time, and the store app also wasn't working. Before that, a "Get ready to pre-order the iPhone 6S" prompt within the app let you fill out your carrier settings and choose the device you want so when preorders are available, you only have a few buttons to press. Yet for some users, myself included, the pricing screen would only display one option, like the choice to use AT&T's Next financing plan or the option to only buy the device off-contract. It didn't appear to display more than one purchase option, so be sure to double check.
For those who want to enroll in Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, arguably one of the better deals around, you'll have to poke around the Apple Store app. Go to the "shopping" section, select iPhone, and then scroll to the bottom of the list. It's there below "accessories," and will let you reserve the model of your choice and schedule a retail store appointment to pick it up.
The Apple Store app is the way to go
This year, Apple threw a bit of a curveball and moved the date from the standard Friday morning to Saturday, meaning poor East Coast residents eager to buy the iPhone 6S or 6S Plus are sitting here at 3:01AM. It's bittersweet because not having to work the next day makes the buying process notably less obnoxious, but having to sit at your computer or pull out your phone in the middle of the night is not a great way to kick off the weekend.
As far as prices go, Apple's iPhone 6S will cost you $649 (16GB), $749 (64GB), or $849 (128GB). For the iPhone 6S Plus, you'll have to plunk down an additional $100 over the cost of the 6S for whichever storage tier you want. AppleCare+ phone insurance and support now runs an additional $129, a $30 bump over last year. These prices may be a shock to those that are still accustomed to cellular carriers' two-year contracts and the $200 iPhone of years past. Yet most major telecom companies including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have begun following T-Mobile's lead and dropping support for these types of deals. Two-year contracts hurt customers in the long run and carriers have discovered that they also limit customers' ability to upgrade whenever they like.
You can still get your hands on a two-year deal with certain carriers if you buy it from the company itself, like AT&T, but you'll save more money by picking up a month-by-month financing option like AT&T Next or Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program.