Best Bets for Getting an iPhone 4 on Launch Day
For the first time, shoppers hoping to snag a new iPhone on launch day will have a choice of retailers besides just Apple and AT&T. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack will all carry the new iPhone 4 starting Thursday morning, which means the phone will be available in thousands more retail locations this year compared to last year's locations for the iPhone 3GS.
Pre-orders at all locations have sold out, so expect the fervor to grow as people line up to get their hands on the newest generation iPhone.
With more retailers carrying the iPhone 4 , the likelihood of getting one should be higher, but demand could still outpace inventory. According to AT&T, pre-orders for the new phone were 10 times greater than the iPhone 3GS.
For those who successfully pre-ordered their phone through Apple when the site was intermittently functioning due to overload, there's good news. Apple sent an email to its home delivery customers today to let them know that they could be receiving their iPhones on June 23, a day early. Although Apple and FedEx tracking information may currently indicate a later date, you can check the FedEx website the morning of the June 23 to track your package to your doorstep.
Yesterday, people who chose to pick up their iPhones in person received an email reminding them that they could drop by their nearest Apple store beginning at 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning. The fine print cautions that "pre-authorization does not guarantee iPhone availability." Customers must pick up their phone at the location specified on their pre-order. Better get there early.
An Apple statement said "Apple Stores are expected to have an allotment of walk-in inventory outside the existing pre-orders." In-mall stores may offer a better chance of getting an iPhone 4 than stand-alone stores due to restrictions on line formations and multiple entrances. Apple Stores will open early at 7:00 a.m.
AT&T customers may experience delays even if they pre-ordered the phone before AT&T sold out its pre-order allotment. AT&T said in a statement last week that "as of Tuesday afternoon [June 15], customers who pre-order iPhone 4 moving forward will receive their device on June 25 or later, depending on when the order is placed."
But some AT&T customers may fare better. AT&T began shipping the phone Monday with a delivery date as early as Wednesday, June 23.
AT&T initially said it will have a limited number of devices available on a first-come, first-serve basis in its retail stores beginning on launch day, but has moved the date for in-store phones to Tuesday, July 29 . AT&T employees were not able to pre-order the device nor will they be able to get a phone on launch day, so buying one off a friend who works at AT&T will not be an option this time around. AT&T stores will open at 9:00 a.m. Thursday.
At Best Buy, stores are expected to have allocations between 20 and 70 phones each based on leaked inventory statements. A Best Buy memo to employees read, "Inventory expected to be minimal. Pre-sales may only occur up to 11:00 a.m. local time. Do not provide customers who pre-purchase on launch day timing on when a device may be available."
Best Buy today announced it received a notice from Apple that no white iPhones would be available on Thursday. Customers who ordered the white model will be notified when Best Buy receives the phones from Apple. Best Buy stores have not been instructed to open early on Thursday, but customers have been advised to call their local store to find out when it will open its doors. Best Buy stores usually open at 10:00 a.m., some as early as 9:00 a.m.
RadioShack will pay customers up to $200 in store credit for a used iPhone 3GS and up to $100 for a used iPhone 3G. The credits can be used to purchase other electronics as part of the company's new Trade & Save program recycling program . For some people, this could mean a free 16GB iPhone 4.
However, it is unlikely many will get an iPhone 4 on Thursday.
Apple Insider reported that Radio Shack was informed by Apple on Monday that it could no longer use the word "pre-order" as part of its own reservation process, nor could it guarantee customers that they'd receive their iPhone on June 24. People familiar with the matter said Apple allotted RadioShack less than 100,000 units, which rounds out to an average of 22 phones per store.
Hannah Higerd, RadioShack spokesperson, told TechNewsDaily that phones had not yet been allocated to stores and would probably be in selected markets only due to short supply.
Wal-Mart has received their shipments as evidenced by a photo of the packaged phones posted by tech site Engadget. Despite the early arrival, Apple is restricting retailers from selling the device before Thursday. Expect the same minimal allotments as at Best Buy stores. While many Wal-Mart locations open at 9:00 a.m., some stores are open 24 hours. iPhone seekers should check with their local store for time when iPhones will be available.
There are no safe bets on iPhone 4 launch day, but for those willing to wait, iPhone 4s should be widely available by mid-July.
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