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« 4G Battle: Verizon vs AT&T | Main | Which iPad 3 should I get? »

How to Buy an iPad 3

We don't know if Apple will do preorders, but they didn't last year.  So the best guess we can provide at this point for getting an iPad 3 is to look at the iPad 2 launch last year.  In summary: order online within 6 hours of orders going live (early in the morning).  For more details, read on.

Wednesday March 2 - iPad 2 announced

Friday March 11 at 3:41am EST - iPad 2 online orders begin

Friday March 11 at 9:13am EST - iPad 2 online order delivery estimates get delayed to 2-3 weeks

Friday March 11 at 5pm Local Time - Apple Stores start selling iPad 2's to huge lines at the stores

Tuesday March 15 - some online orders start arriving for the first customers

Tuesday March 15 - iPad 2 online order delivery gets delayed to 4-5 weeks 

During these initial days, Apple Stores received shipments of iPad 2's almost daily, but they were sporadic and lines would start forming immediately.  You had to be there within 1-2 hours of the shipment arrival or they sold out.  Even then, the specific model iPad you want could have been sold out already. (ie. "Only Verizon 3G iPad 64GB are left.")

In short, you need to order online as soon as possible.  Last year, waiting until 9:30 EST to order meant a delay of 2-3 weeks!  We will know exactly what the ordering situation is next Wednesday, March 7th at 1pm EST when Apple announces the iPad 3.