How to Get an iPhone at Launch

On June 29, 2007, at 6pm local time in the United States, eager consumers will be able to pony up at their local Apple Store or select AT&T retail outlet and purchase an Apple iPhone and associated two-year network service contract. That's the theory anyway. The truth is, if you think you're going to just waltz into a store on June 29 and get Apple's latest mobile device, you've got to reset your expectations. Things just aren't that simple.

First, the stores that do carry the iPhone on June 29 will have limited supplies, so you're going to have to get there early—as in, the day before—and camp out. If this notion doesn't completely turn you off, remember also that not all AT&T retail stores will be carrying the iPhone. So, call ahead to your local establishments ahead of time and find out whether it's worth bothering.

Another tack to take is to simply order the device online. Although the iPhone isn't (yet) available even for preorder, Apple says it will be selling it through its online store as well as at its retail stores. Presumably, Web-based orders will take weeks if not months to fulfill, so the earlier the better. Stay tuned to Apple-oriented news sites such as for information about when Web orders become available.

There are other details to attend to. If you're not an AT&T/Cingular customer, you're going to have to cancel your current wireless service in order to switch. That can be an expensive prospect because most US-based cell phone users are on a two-year service agreement, and wireless companies will typically try to recover an amount equal to the remainder of your contract. That said, Type-A personalities will discover that they can often talk wireless company reps into lowering the buy-out cost, so be prepared to put up a fight. Also, you're going to have to set up an iTunes Store account if you don't already have one, because the iPhone requires this account for registration. So, download iTunes 7 today from Apple's Web site and get ready.

In the end, you'd be best served by waiting. But if you really want an iPhone at launch, you can get one. You just have to be prepared to make the appropriate sacrifices.

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