It seems Apple is constraining in-store purchases of the iPad mini with retina display.
A couple nights ago, I reached that point where I was 99% certain I wanted to get an iPad mini, despite the lack of Touch ID. I knew supplies were tight, but I figured it was worth seeing if any were in stock locally. To my surprise, there were some available, so I placed an order for Personal Pickup at the Pioneer Place Apple Store.
Yesterday, I picked up the new iPad at lunch time and started to install things and get it set up. Knowing that a few folks had seen image retention problems, I decided to use the test by Marco Arment to check my display.
Unfortunately, it failed with a noticeable retained pattern.
I set up a Genius Bar appointment for later in the afternoon. I talked to the Genius about what I saw and she said that because the unit was brand new, it made sense to just return it and get a new one rather than any sort of repair process. So far, so good.
We Don’t Have Any Available
The Genius told me that they didn’t have any of the same model iPad available for exchange (they didn’t have the other color, either). She was very apologetic and facilitated me returning the defective iPad, telling me that I should just order a new one online and that was going to be the quickest way to get a new unit.
That was a bummer, but not entirely unsurprising, since I knew supplies were short. What happened next was the surprise.
I left the store, went out to my car, and had a bright idea: I was about to drive across town for a meeting, putting me within a mile of another Apple Store (Bridgeport Village). I figured I’d fire up the Apple Store app and see if the other store had any iPads available.
They did. But the app also told me that Pioneer Place, the store I’d just left, had them available as well.
Apple Preventing Stores from Selling iPads Without Online Order
I walked back into the store and talked with two employees, explaining what I’d seen and asking for an explanation. They told me that they’re not able to sell the iPad mini with retina units unless they’ve been preordered online.
That’s right: they have the units in stock, but aren’t allowed to sell them to a customer who walks into the store and asks for one.
They suggested that I could order one online and that it would be ready for pickup, at that store, within an hour. They even offered to let me use the store’s computers to make the order. After a bit of back-and-forth conversation that basically consisted of me repeating WTF, I left the store as I needed to head across town.
Once back in my car, I ordered the iPad for pickup at Bridgeport, made the 45-minute drive, picked it up, and was on my way.
The new unit doesn’t have the screen retention problem.