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Apple's new service will help you buy an iPhone via video call. Here's how to use it

It's like FaceTiming but with a product specialist who can answer all your iPhone questions -- and even guide you through the buying process.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Shopping on Apple's website with a video specialist.

Is Apple taking the hybrid era of work too seriously? Just kidding. The company recently announced a new web service called Shop with a Specialist over Video. The web-exclusive service, only available in the U.S. and free to use, allows users to start a one-way video call with a retail team member to seek buying advice, inquire about carrier deals, and ultimately make a purchase. You'll be able to see the specialist and their shared screen as they walk you through the commerce platform, but they won't be able to see you.

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"With Shop with a Specialist over Video, our team members are excited to connect with customers and provide exceptional service as they learn about which iPhone best suits them," said Karen Rasmussen, Apple's head of Retail Online, in a Tuesday press release. Given how many models of the iPhone Apple currently sells on its website -- and there are now more colors than ever -- the new consultant service should benefit customers experiencing buying confusion and can't travel to a local Apple store. 

If you're interested in using Shop with a Specialist over Video, here's how it works.

How to use Shop with a Specialist over Video

1. Open the Shop iPhone section on Apple's website

Shop with a Specialist over Video is currently limited to Apple's iPhone section. Plans for expansion are up in the air but will likely depend on how successful this soft launch is.

To find the service, you'll want to hover over "iPhone" on the top navigation bar and click on "Shop iPhone."

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You're in the right place if you see a carousel of different iPhone models and relevant services below it.

A screenshot showing the Shop iPhone option on the navigation bar.
June Wan/ZDNET

2. Open Shop with a Specialist over Video

Scroll down to the shopping guides row and click on the "Shop with a Specialist over video" card. You'll be directed to an Ask Apple portal, with the option to start a session with an iPhone specialist. Note that the service is available during the business hours of 7 a.m to 7 p.m PT.

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Starting the session will prompt your browser to allow the website to access your microphone. This will be followed by an "A Specialist will be with you shortly" screen. Simply wait until you're at the front of the queue or click "End call" to leave.

Using the Shop with a Specialist feature to shop iPhones.

Here's what the video session will look like.



What can the specialist help me with?

According to Apple, specialists will be able to walk you through the differences between iPhone models, carrier deals and connectivity, how to switch data across devices, and payment options like financing.

What if I lose connection during a session?

If you lose connection or accidentally click out of a video session, you'll have to start a new session and rejoin the queue.

Why can't I start a session?

There are two reasons for a session not to start: You're using the service after business hours (7 a.m to 7 p.m PT) or there's a high call volume and specialists are helping customers ahead of you. In both cases, your best bet is to wait.

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