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How, when, and where to preorder the iPhone SE

Caitlin McGarry | March 24, 2016
Preorders start on Thursday. Are you ready?

It seems like just last September that we were queueing up to preorder the new iPhone. Oh, wait—it was. Well, if you sat out the last preordering bonanza because large displays just aren’t your thing, not to worry: There’s a new iPhone on the block, and it looks almost exactly like the 4-inch iPhones of yore. It’s called the iPhone SE, and it’s almost identical to the iPhone 5s in looks (which is a very good thing) but with all of the power packed into the 6s.

Here’s how to get this thing: Online preorders start very, very late Wednesday evening—or really, really early Thursday morning, depending on which coast you’re on—so we hope you don’t have to work in the morning. There are a few avenues through which you can preorder. might be the place you turn to first, but if the online store fails you, the Macworld staff has successfully preordered many a device in the Apple Store app for iOS. Apple also recommends the app for a smooth preordering experience. (Seriously, we often turn to the app before we even attempt the website. It just works™.)

The four major carriers will all sell you an iPhone SE Wednesday night/Thursday morning. You can also go to another retailer. A search for iPhone SE on Best Buy’s website offers a slew of options—storage size, color, carrier—at varying prices, but no preorder time is given. Target makes no mention of the device on its website.

You don’t have to preorder Wednesday night/Thursday morning, of course—the phone hits store shelves March 31. But if you need the SE right away, preordering is the way to go for super fast shipping. You can pay $399 outright for the 16GB version of this lil phone (or $499 for the 64GB), or you can spread out the cost to make the splurge less painful. So who has the best deal? (Spoiler alert: in some cases, this phone is free).

apple iphone se colors
Apple’s colorful iPhone SE lineup.


Apple hasn’t actually said what time preorders start, but if history is doomed to repeat itself, then you can snag an iPhone SE as soon as the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. Pacific/3:01 a.m. Eastern Thursday morning (or late Wednesday, if you’re being optimistic). The 16GB iPhone SE costs $399 and the 64GB model is $499.

Or, just like with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple is offering an iPhone Upgrade Program, which means you can buy an unlocked iPhone SE for a low monthly payment if you trade in your current smartphone. If you’re upgrading from an iPhone 4 or 4s, you’ll pay $14 a month for a 16GB SE (those payments are spread out over 24 months). Ditching the 5 or 5c for an SE will cost you $12 a month, and switching from the 5s is just $10 a month. The 64GB model will run slightly higher.


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