Radio Shack. Pre-order in store with a $50 deposit, and come back for the phone. Calls to stores said buyers should get their phones, if not by Friday, then by Monday.
The wireless carriers. AT&T (ships within 14-21 business days), Verizon (ships Oct. 5) and Sprint (ships Oct. 5) online with pre-orders. Or purchase at stores on Friday.
"I'd recommend consumers skip the carrier stores on Friday because they'll try to upsell you on services, and the line will go really slow," Doherty says. "They might find more satisfaction at a retailer."
Doherty believes the line for the iPhone 5 will be the longest and most intense since the first iPhone went on sale in 2007, attracting as many as 1 million folks. But there's more to it than just heavy consumer demand in the U.S.
Consumers in other countries where the iPhone 5 won't be on sale until later also want to be first on the block with the hot new device, and will pay handsomely for it. Doherty thinks every other person on the line will be buying phones to ship out to buyers elsewhere.
"We expect a lot of FedEx and UPS boxes to be going out to China, Europe and the Middle East that day," Doherty says.
Contributing: Adam Shell in New York; The Associated Press