So what's the best way for you to buy an iPhone? Will you camp out overnight? Or aim yourself towards a metropolitan center with its greater number of on-hand units? Or perhaps you'll be heading towards the suburbs to snag an iPhone from a store less likely to be hounded by campers? Here are a few points you might want to keep in mind.
Buying an iPhone takes time. If you've ever purchased a cell phone, you know that between saying "I want it" to finishing ringing it up and working out the paperwork can take thirty or forty minutes. I called around to a few cell phone stores and most agreed that the quickest they could process someone through would probably be about 15-20 minutes--and that would be pushing it just a wee bit. I was told to bring my current account number and a statement from my current cell phone provider if I wanted to transfer service. However, several of the salesmen said they don't always keep the proper equipment on-hand for working with the SIM card stuff so you might have to wait until things calm down to finish setting that up.
iPhones won't go on sale until the evening. Many stores have already put up signs to this effect. For my local AT&T store, they will close at 4:00 on the 29th and reopen at 6:00 PM. The guy at my store said they expected a line that would go about 2 blocks in length. You may want to call during the day and see how long the line is getting before making the decision to start camping out. And, while each store agreed that the store phones would be working during the 2 hour time out, they all suggested that getting someone to pick up the phone and answer your call might be a problem.
Restocking supplies are not expected soon. After the initial shipments sell out (which pretty much all the salesmen I spoke to assumed was a given), the stores do not expect new stocks to show immediately (one guy said not for up for at least a month, but I'm pretty sure he was pulling that information out of his...um...imagination). So waiting until the next day may not be an option for you. All iPhones are on auto-restock, so stores will basically request more automatically after they sell out.