I just got back from the Apple Store and am now the proud owner of an iPhone 3G S 32 GB in basic black. I can't wait to get at it, but before dive in, I want to write a bit about the experience.
Driving to the Apple store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, NY, I drove past an AT&T store which had no line and very few cars in the parking lot. When I got to the Apple store, it was a different story. There was a bit of a line or actually two lines, but nothing big. When I got to one of the Apple reps at the start of the line, I was asked if I pre-ordered. I had, and my name was on the list. I was told to stand on a line of only five people, the other line of people who had no pre-ordered numbered fourteen.
It was about 1:50 pm when I got there and I was curious to see how the Apple experience would differ from what I was accustomed to. The last few times I bought a cellphone, it was a slow, laborious process where the store rep had to take a ton of information from me, get a credit check, wait, find a phone, wait, get more information from me, wait, take the phone to the back to infuse it with life by chanting arcane spells and pushing arcane buttons, wait, hear a canned sales pitch on how the phone would be absolutely no good without a dozen or so accessories that they would be very happy to sell me, refuse, wait, sign a sheave of documents, wait, get the okay, a shopping bag and a receipt and finally leave the story after well over an hour. Let's see how Apple does it.
While waiting in the line with a bottle of Poland Spring Water given to me by an orange-shirted rep, I struck up a conversation with Angelo Vergara who was trading in his three month-old 16 GB model for the same capacity in a 3G S. He told me a story that made me do a double-take. Angelo could have upgraded a year ago according to his contract, but didn't. Instead, he bought his iPhone 3G a few months ago. To upgrade it would cost him $399. That sounded a bit steep. I asked him why he couldn't just cancel his contract, sell the 3G iPhone and pay the early termination fee, and then start a new contract along with paying only $199 for his new phone. He told me that doing so would lose his phone number which he was not wont to do. The net dollars spent would be close, but it seems like he was caught in an odd concatenated AT&T policy. When I got to the front of the line, I asked Jane, my sales rep if this was, in fact, policy and she told me it was. Seems somewhat fishy though.