We don't yet know how rabid the on-the-ground eagerness will be come Thursday night/Friday morning at the downtown S.F. Apple Store (or at Apple Stores around the Bay Area). But Apple reps we spoke to are trying to discourage people from showing up at the Union Square store on Friday because they really don't know if they'll have an iPhone 6 for you.

Depending on your chosen carrier/model and the number of people nutty and underemployed enough to line up super-early, your chances of getting a new phone Friday if you haven't already pre-ordered one and chosen the in-store pickup option are looking slim. In fact, the reportedly intense pre-sale action looks like this release could rival the stock shortages the company faced during the iPhone 5S release only a year ago.

One of the most popular models, the AT&T 64GB iPhone 6 in space gray definitely won't be available at the Union Square store if you have not already pre-ordered, though certain other models were still showing stock as of today. (If you're thinking about getting in line, try calling 415-392-0202 first to confirm that the model you want is still available for pickup at least as of now and then complete the pre-sale order online.) The rep we spoke to was careful to say, however, "We won't know how many people will try showing up or how much stock we will actually have until Friday." The 6 Plus, which was the first to sell out in pre-ordering, may be even harder to come by.

The reviews of both phones are out today, and they go like this:

  • The Guardian's Charles Arthur loves both phones, including the feel of them in the hand, rounded edges and all. He points to the new aspect of iOS8 that allows a light double-tap on the home button to bring the screen down halfway in order to allow your thumb to reach the top — an innovation necessary because of the larger size of both phones.
  • The New York Times' Molly Wood says that the battery life on the regular iPhone 6 is "impressive" and the call quality "excellent." But she's a little less thrilled with iOS8 and how it handles the larger screens.
  • CNET says the battery life is, in fact, not much better than the 5S's, but they note the "bigger, crisp display, improved LTE and Wi-Fi speeds" and the upcoming integration of Apple Pay.
  • The Verge says the usage of the new screen feels "perfectly polished" and design-wise, they're in love. "The iPhone 5S was a stark piece of jewelry, a gorgeous object that was slightly cold and unapproachable. The iPhone 6 is far friendlier and far more usable." But, they add, "slim and gorgeous as it is, this iPhone begs to have a case on it."
  • Tech Crunch calls the iPhone 6 Plus the "first truly well designed big smartphone," adding "It's not a phone you can use well in the traditional way [one-handed]... [but] it's a really big advantage being able to use it landscape mode."
  • As for the iPhone 6, Tech Crunch says it's "the biggest change in iPhone hardware that we've seen" and it's "a better feeling in the hand" than recent models.

[The Verge]

Previously: Here's What A Shipment of 195,000 New iPhones Looks Like Arriving From China