Lines are already starting to form outside Apple's flagship New York City store, known as the "glass cube," but Apple said those early birds will also have to wait until the clock strikes eight.
"iPhone 3G will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, and sales will start at 8:00 a.m.," Apple said in a statement. "Arrive early to get in line as daily quantities are limited by stock on hand."
It was unclear Tuesday how many 3G iPhones each retail outlet will receive, but Apple is letting the iPhone faithful check availability several hours after the first smartphones are sold July 11.
"Online, you can check store availability of iPhone 3G," the statement said, advising users to return to the Apple Web page after 9 p.m. to check the next day's availability of the handset at any Apple Retail Stores.
"New iPhone shipments arrive most days and availability will be updated nightly," Apple said.
The iPhone's U.S. carrier, AT&T, last week also said thousands of its retail stores will start offering the iPhone at 8 a.m. your local time Friday. The early sale times by both retailers is a change of pace from last year's first-generation iPhone launch, during which the mobile phones became available at 6 p.m., resulting in massive crowds.
Apple and AT&T stores will require in-store activation of 3G iPhones this year. Last year, buyers took the devices home for activation, cutting down in-store wait times but creating jammed phone lines as users dialed AT&T for activation.
Along with publishing when the iPhone 3G will go on sale, Apple also posted a quick guide for potential buyers about how their iPhone purchasing experience will play out.
"When you arrive, a concierge in an orange shirt will direct you to the iPhone bay where you can take advantage of our free personal setup," Apple said. "A specialist will help you choose an iPhone 3G, review coverage maps, select a rate plan, and—best of all—have your new iPhone 3G ready to make calls, browse the Web and receive e-mail right on the spot."
Apple is anticipating long lines and long wait times, as customers will receive one-on-one service from an Apple store employee to get their 3G iPhone up and running.
To purchase and activate an iPhone 3G at an Apple Store, buyers will need to bring a credit card; their Social Security number; a valid government-issued photo ID; and their current wireless account number and password or PIN, if they are new to AT&T service.
Apple is also reminding second-generation iPhone buyers to sync their current iPhones one last time before coming to the store.
For business users looking to buy a 3G iPhone and use it with service under a corporate account, Apple said they'll need to contact AT&T directly. Apple also recommends that corporate users check with their IT manager before using their iPhone to access business e-mail accounts.
AT&T and Apple last week unveiled pricing models for the 3G iPhone, which will be offered for $199 for the 8-GB model and $299 for the 16-GB model if the user signs a two-year AT&T contract. Customers already with AT&T will have to shell out $399 for the 8-GB 3G iPhone and $499 for the model with twice the memory. That option also requires a new two-year service agreement. AT&T noted that it will also offer a no-contract option for users who don't want to be locked into AT&T, despite the iPhone not working on other networks. A contract-free iPhone 3G will run $599 and $699 for the 8-GB and 16-GB models, respectively.
In addition, current AT&T customers who are upgrading to a 3G Apple iPhone will have to pay an $18 upgrade fee, while new AT&T customers will pay twice that, which is AT&T's standard activation fee.
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