FAQ: How to score an iPhone 5 on Friday

What you need to know to grab Apple's hot smartphone before you go crazy

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What countries get the iPhone 5 on Friday? Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. -- nine altogether, two more than last year and four more than in 2010 when Apple launched the iPhone 4.

Customers in another 22 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain, will have to wait until Sept. 28.

It sounds like it will be crazy on Friday. I'll wait a few days. Anything I need to know? Yes. Apple will likely replicate the practice of reserving an iPhone that it used last year.

Here's how it will probably work: You'll need to check an Apple store's inventory after 9 p.m. local time at a page Apple will set up. Assuming the model you want is in stock, you'll place a reservation hold, then head to the store the next day to choose a carrier and pick up the phone.

My wallet is still thinner than a politician's excuse. Is there anything I can get on the cheap? For $99, you can get a 16GB version of last year's iPhone 4S. And unlike the iPhone 5, the older iPhone 4S is in stock and ready to ship immediately. Want something for free? Apple and its carrier partners will hand you a two-year-old 8GB iPhone 4 gratis.

To qualify for those prices, you must commit to a two-year contract, of course. After all, nothing is really free.

Money's no object. What are my options? Try eBay.

As of early Thursday, there were hundreds of iPhone 5 smartphones listed on the auction site, with one as high as $3,500 and a slew at the relatively-bargain-basement price of $2,500. (Hey, at least those prices are lower than the $15,000 top eBay deal in 2010 for an iPhone 4.) The lowest "Buy It Now" price we found was $700 for a 16GB Verizon iPhone 5.

I'm desperate...! I hit the snooze button on the alarm last week and my pre-order won't show up until Oct. 5, for Pete's sake. Can I cancel the online pre-order and go stand in line tomorrow? -- Signed, "Frustrated in Framingham." You are desperate. And kind of sad, too.

But yes, you can.

Look at your order for the iPhone 5: To find it, go to the online Apple Store, click Account at the upper right, then "View Order History." Pull down the "All Items Action" list for the iPhone 5 order. If it says "Cancel Item," you're set.

You might want to wait to pull that trigger until you score one Friday by heading out into the real world. Once you have your iPhone, you can return to the online order and cancel.

Someone else will get that iPhone 5. And you'll have just added some karma to your account.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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