I bought a WiFi iPad mini on its launch day a couple weeks back. This week I returned it within the 14 day return period; reason: I love it (see my iPad mini review for confirmation) and wanted to trade up to the WiFi + Cellular model as soon as I could get hold of one.
During the course of Thursday and Friday of this week I kept seeing reports that the iPad mini WiFi + Cellular (or LTE) models would be in Apple and carrier stores starting on Friday. So yesterday I called around to quite a number of AT&T and Verizon stores here in Austin – and none of them had any available, or any clue when they might have some. I called my closest Apple store twice during Friday morning and was told they had no iPad mini LTE models in yet and that they weren’t sure if they would get any during the day. I tried a third time just after midday and got the sad news that they had received a limited number of units and had sold out. I must’ve missed them by a very small window of time.
Last night I tried hitting the Apple online store right on 10PM – when they refresh stock availability – to see if I could manage to grab an LTE model with pickup at a local store, to avoid waiting 2 weeks for shipping. I spent a full hour giving my browser’s refresh button a workout and then finally the page changed and showed pickup options available for the 32GB LTE model I wanted. I entered my zip code and immediately saw that no pickup was available at any of the stores in my area. I tried several times with no change in the results.
This morning I thought I’d try another few calls to local stores, but felt as if there was very little hope and thought I’d be hitting the online store at 10PM tonight again. But I got lucky on my first call to my closest local Apple store at 9:40AM. They said they had a very limited number of 32GB models in stock but that they would likely sell out very quickly once they opened at 10. Luckily this store is about a 10 minute drive away on a clear Saturday morning – so I was there at 9:55 and was the first one in the store and was able to grab a black 32GB model.
The only change I had to make was going with a Verizon model rather than AT&T, which is always my first choice. And I’m fine with that as A) it’s a separate, no-contract data plan anyway and B) Verizon has excellent coverage in my area and it’s probably about time I give them a try.
I got my new iPad mini restored from an iCloud backup of the WiFi model in an hour flat. I think that’s superb considering that’s all settings and over 100 apps – right back exactly where they were on the mini’s home screens. I also got a new data plan going with Verizon (the minimum 2GB for $20 per month) quickly and easily.
My new little friend is now charged to 100% and ready to rock. If you’re out hunting for an LTE iPad mini this weekend, I hope you get lucky too.