For me, the best part of buying my original iPhone was the activation process. After giving the guy at the AT&T Store my money, he popped my unopened iPhone into a bag and sent me on my way.
Once I was home, I connected my precious to my iMac, launched iTunes and, about fifteen minutes later, she was up and running. That was the glory of at-home activation. Some say it was only a legend.
Since then, Apple changed their policy to require in-store activations. Meaning, AT&T customers must pick up their iPhones at their stores. Fortunately, that's changing. AT&T is now offering to ship iPhones to customers who have completed an online registration, which includes signing up for a 2-year contract. In fact, if you order your phone before 4PM Central time, you can enjoy overnight shipping.