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FAQ: What you need to know about the iPhone

Is there anything left to know about the iPhone frenzy? We'll fill you in

June 29, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Editor's note: This story was written before the iPhone officially went on sale. To read more about that event, see: The iPhone goes on sale, finally.

We hear you. We know, it's been iPhone, iPhone, iPhone. But the end is in sight, or to go Churchillian on you, "Not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Whatever.

We're eager for the 6 p.m. iWitching hour to iCome and iGo, so we can, like you, enjoy our iWeekend. [What, you don't think there'll be endless follow-up articles next week? iWish. -- Eds.] With that goal in mind, let's cut to the chase and get to the FAQs that will take you to the iPromised Land.

Skip to the good part -- when can I get one? Today, 6:00 p.m. local time, but only at AT&T Inc. stores -- corporate stores, not a franchise; there's a difference -- and Apple Inc.'s retail stores. Again, that means Apple's own stores, not resellers. To locate nearby stores, use the AT&T Find a Store site or the Apple store list for the U.S. Both the AT&T and Apple stores will close early (AT&T at 4:30 p.m., Apple's outlets at 2:00 p.m.) to sweep out customers and prep for sales. The Apple online store will take orders starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

I'll be there. How many can I buy? Pssst ... it's for my little friend I call '"eBay." AT&T's limit is one per customer. Apple says you can buy a deuce. That must be one of the things they worked out between them, or maybe it's just Steve Jobs' optimism.

I'm interested, but I don't care to be in the crush. Can I buy one this weekend? If supplies last, sure. AT&T store weekend hours are generally 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, but check with your target store. Hours are posted online. (There's no word on whether AT&T stores will be open for extended hours this weekend.) Apple's stores, meanwhile, will open at 9:00 a.m. starting Saturday and running through the summer. Apple bonus: You can ping any store for iPhone availability the night before starting at 9:00 p.m. local. That could save you a wasted trip.

How much is this going to cost me? Like they say, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. First, there's the $499 or $599 price for the iPhone (4GB and 8GB flash drive, respectively) with no subsidized discount, a shocker right off the bat to most cell phone shoppers. Then you have to add the minimum two-year contract with AT&T -- the least expensive unlimited data plan is $59.99 a month -- and the $36 for AT&T's activation. Figure another $12 a month in taxes on the service. Finally, if you subscribe to any wireless service other than AT&T (formerly Cingular Wireless), canceling your current account means paying an early termination fee. Verizon Communications Inc., for example, pins you with as much as $175 for bailing, while T-Mobile charges $200. Say you're exiting Verizon; the total two-year cost for an 8GB iPhone will be $2,538, plus sales tax, if any, on the iPhone. Subtract what you'd pay out over the next 24 months for your current calling plan. That's your rough out-of-pocket difference. The upside? You pocket an iPhone.



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