Monday, July 7, 2008

iPhone 3G Launch-GET READY, GET SET, GO...!

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past month or so, anyone who has any interest in the new 3G iPhone knows that this Friday is D day. With the launch less than four days away, here are some tips to make sure your purchase experience is as painless as possible:

  • AT&T stores will open at 8:00am on Friday July 11, 2008 for iPhone sales and should be well stocked and also have plenty of personnel on hand to serve the anxious crowds eager to get thier hands on the new 3G iPhone. Apple stores have not finalized or announced opening times, but you can almost rest assured that the Apple stores will open at 8am as well. UPDATE: The Apple website has now confirmed an 8am store opening/Launch.
  • Bring your photo ID and know your Social Security number. This is especially true if you are not a current AT&T customer looking to buy your first iPhone. If you wish to port your number, be sure to have a copy of your latest bill from your current carrier to expedite matters and minimize delays in porting your number.
  • Apple stores will only accept checks or credit cards for payment. No cash will be accepted at Apple stores for iPhone purchases. AT&T stores will supposedly accept cash, but check or call them first to make sure. There is also information floating around saying that each individual is limited to a single iPhone purchase regardless of how many lines you have with them. Bring bodies just in case!
  • Every iPhone will be either activated or pre-activated prior to leaving the store. In other words, you must either establish new service at the point of sale (POS) or have an exisiting account that you can upgrade to the 3G iPhone. Every iPhone activated on AT&T will require a 2-year agreement. New customers will undergo a credit check and those who don't qualify may need up to a $500 deposit to become a post-paid AT&T customer.
  • iPhones without a contract will probably not be sold on launch day to protect supplies. If your plans are to buy an iPhone without a 2-year agreement, you can almost rest assured you won't be able to do so until the majority of iPhone customers who are buying with an agreement have been served-probably a week or two after launch. The won't be any iPhone Go plans for the iPhone at launch, but that will probably change down the road.
  • There has been much speculation about Best-Buy carrying the new iPhone 3G given that they are stocking many iPhone accessories, but don't expect Best-Buy to have them on launch day. They too will probably not get them until a few weeks after intial launch.
  • iPhone prices are $199 for an 8Gb version, $299 for a 16Gb version if you are a current AT&T iPhone customer looking to upgrade, or a current AT&T customer who is eligible for an upgrade. Otherwise the price is $399/$499 with a 2-year agreement.
  • If you are a not an AT&T customer looking to put a non-AT&T SIM card in an iPhone at launch forget about it. You cannot buy a 3G iPhone that is SIM-unlocked in the U.S. Even if you can eventually unlock the 3G iPhone, current T-Mobile USA customers will not be able to take advantage of T-Mobiles new 3G network that is starting to roll out due to the system incompatibilities in AWS (Advanced Wireless System)
  • Expect to spend at least 30 minutes at the store where you purchase your iPhone once you have reached the front of the line. And yes, there will be lines folks! They started last Friday in some NYC locations, believe it or not!
  • Be sure to back up/sync your current iPhone before heading out to upgrade. Bringing your laptop and iPhone sync cable with you may not be a bad idea if you want to be up an running on the spot. Apple has posted an article on How To Replace an Original iPhone with a 3G iPhone.
  • Bring plenty of patience with you. The in store activation process is going to be a very trying one this time around compared to last years launch. You walked in, paid, walked out with your shiny new toy and went home and activate at your leisure. This year AT&T won't be having any of that to make sure that they get full value for the $200 or so subsidy they are supposedly paying Apple on each iPhone sale.
  • Most Important: Be sure to check the AT&T website to make sure that 3G is offered in your area. 3G is very limited to major cities and AT&T markets right now. Unless your area has 3G AT&T coverage, you will be surfing at EDGE speeds--the same as those with the first generation iPhones until AT&T fully deploys 3G across its entire coverage footprint and network. No sense in upgrading to a 3G iPhone if you can take advantage of the additional speed boost unless you must have an iPhone with GPS built in.
  • Lastly, your data plan will be increasing by at least $10 per month to $30. $5 More if you want to keep that 200 SMS bucket you now get for your current $20 edge plan. Data is still unlimited, and you can get a unlimited talk plan with iPhone data for $129.99. add $20 for unlimited texting.

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