I patiently waited for the actual release of iOS5 - since I can't get myself an iPhone 4S for a little while without paying a premium. When I saw that iOS5 was available, I decided to update my 32GB iPhone 4 to the latest and greatest.
First off, Apple wanted me to upgrade OS X to 10.7.2 and iTunes to 10.5. That took the better part of an hour in itself, between downloading a pretty hefty collection of bits, installing them and then running a subsequent back up, I was a full hour in before I could even begin to upgrade my iPhone.
Once that was out of the way I tried updating the iPhone 4. Here's where the fun began.
First, an error
I Googled up the issue and there was a huge thread on the Apple discussion forums on this. Since several people reported that they were able to upgrade by just continuing to try, I decided to give that a go. Three attempts in, I got something different. It looked like my iPhone was being updated!
Then suddenly I got the error again. Oh well. The problem was my iPhone was now in a restore state and not being recognized by iTunes - it had the little "plug me in to iTunes" graphic on the screen of the iPhone.
This was not good. I tried to do a restore and it would spin and spin, however I now got a different error message:
Looks like the Apple servers were completely overwhelmed. This was not good. Especially now that my iPhone was essentially in brick mode. I kept retrying and the restore would get to varying degrees of success, then eventually fail out. Sometimes with the above error, other times with one of these:
Eventually the iPhone appeared to restore and started up again. Then it flipped into "restoring" mode for my apps and then music and videos:
This process took the better part of an hour. All in, the upgrade took me about 3 hours from start to finish, and I still have an iPad 1 to update.
I think I'm going to wait a week or so to upgrade the iPad. If you are considering upgrading your iPhone now to iOS5, be very patient; you may be without your phone for a number of hours and the way the Apple servers are performing right now under load, perhaps a very long time.
UPDATE: My iPhone was successfully updated to iOS5 - total upgrade time was a little over 3 hours and took about a dozen retries at various stages. All of my information (contacts, calendar, photos, etc.) were intact.
I decided late this evening (Oct 12, 2011) to try updating my iPad, just to see if it would actually go through. This time the upgrade went much more smoothly - not a single error. It did require about 1.5 hours to complete however.