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Apple, AT&T computer failures halt, delay iPhone 3G sales [updated]

Readers and iLounge editors have experienced serious iPhone 3G activation problems this morning, resulting in the halting of hardware sales in some stores and extended wait delays in others. According to an iLounge editor in the United Kingdom, the local Apple Store had ceased sales of the iPhone 3G based on an unspecified system failure, and was taking customers’ details for later contact. In the United States, similar reports from readers suggest that customers at both AT&T and Apple Stores are in for extended waits due to activation problems.

Updated: A report from a reader direct from the AT&T Store - “All of us buyers stood around AT&T for another 45 mins, waiting for 3Gs to activate… Apple server of some kind went down, apparently. AT&T checked with their national offices, Apple in Cupertino, etc., and nobody is able to activate phones now… so we all left with hardware, but phones are non-functional… previously existing customers (i.e., those with SIMs already) still can’t activate in-store or remotely, as of 5 mins ago.”

iLounge posts iPhone 3G unpacking, comparison photos [updated]

Though you’ve already seen the numerous casing shots we’ve featured in our First Look at the iPhone 3G, as well as the world’s first unpacking pictures taken in the wild, we have just posted our gallery of iPhone 3G comparison and unpacking photographs for your enjoyment. Available from our Flickr account, the set of photos shows off the iPhone 3G by comparison to the iPhone, iPod touch, original iPod, and iPod classic, as well as the data functionality of its Maps and Safari applications.

Updated: We have added another huge batch of photos, including white and black unit comparison photos, screenshots, and much more.

Advice: Avoid AT&T, O2 Stores for iPhone 3G [updated x2]

iLounge’s editors have been attending iPhone 3G launch events today in three U.S. states, as well as in Canada. After hours of waiting in lines that were clearly past AT&T’s capacity to satisfy today with product, we offer our readers the following advice: do not wait in line AT&T stores, unless you are prepared to suffer major disappointment. Updated: Our UK editor notes similar issues at O2 in the United Kingdom; see this article’s comments for details there.

As was the case with last year’s launch of the iPhone, AT&T stores have today allowed lines to form well in excess of their actual capacity to presently supply iPhone 3G hardware. At one store we visited this morning, the AT&T store ran entirely out of 16GB iPhones after only 12 customers had made purchases. Another AT&T store ran out of black 16GB units after roughly 10 people had left the store, and customers began to leave the line after extended waits without a guarantee of sufficient inventory.

Though the lines to purchase the iPhone 3G appear to be both shorter and less energetic than last year’s iPhone queues, AT&T’s stores appear unable to satisfy the demand, yet are keeping people in line until they can offer to order units that may be in stock by next week. Lines at Apple Stores are somewhat longer, though it is unclear as to how much inventory they have. We will be updating this story throughout the day.

Canada: Rogers’ flagship store in Toronto had a line of roughly 80 people by 5:00AM; by 9:00AM, an hour after the store opened with groups of 10, they had processed 20 people. The store had a total of 90-100 units, with roughly 20% as 16GB models. A smaller Rogers location, received a total of 6 iPhone 3G units, with one black 16GB, one white 16GB, and four black 8GB models. The Apple Stores in Canada are not selling the iPhone 3G, making Rogers locations the only places to purchase units.

iPhone 2.0 adds screenshot mode

One of the many new, under-publicized features of iPhone Software 2.0 is the ability to take a screenshot of whatever happens to be on the iPhone’s screen at the time. The process is simple: hold down the home button, and then quickly press the sleep/wake button on the top of the phone. Once the buttons are released, the screen will flash white for a brief moment, letting you know the shot has been taken. The screenshot can then be found in the iPhone’s Camera Roll, and can be copied to a computer on the next sync, or emailed to a photo sharing service or to friends. This same tip should also work on the iPod touch, providing it has been updated to software 2.0. Screenshots are created in PNG format, as opposed to the JPEGs made by the iPhone’s Camera application.

iPhone 3G disassembly photos posted

iFixit has posted the first disassembly photos of the iPhone 3G, which it acquired at the device’s midnight launch in New Zealand. Of note, the LCD and glass covering are now separate components, as they are in the iPod touch, making for easier repairs. They were glued together in the original iPhone. The battery is not soldered on, as it was in the original model, and the iPhone 3G appears to use the Infineon SMARTi Power 3i chip. According to Infineon, the part is “optimized to support modem and data card applications based upon X-GOLD208 and X-GOLD 608, with features ranging from EDGE up to 3G and HSDPA.” Finally, the iPhone’s two main boards (logic and communications), which were stacked in the original model, are now laid side-by-side, a configuration iFixit suggests allowed Apple to make the battery longer.

iPhone Software 2.0 unofficially released

Although it has yet to be officially released by Apple via iTunes, iPhone Software 2.0 can now be downloaded through a direct link. After downloading the software image, users need to make sure the downloaded file ends in “.ipsw”, as some browsers, including Safari, will add an unnecessary “.zip” extension to the file name. You may need to look in your trash can to find the file if it is downloaded by Safari and automatically uncompressed. Once the image is ready, hold the Option key and press “Check for Update” in iTunes with the iPhone connected, browse to and select the downloaded image, and the update will commence. This image is not for use with the iPod touch, which will require a $9.99 paid update to get the 2.0 software.

Note: Apple warns in a recently posted Knowledge Base article that installation of iPhone Software 2.0 requires a complete erase of the device: “Normally if you choose to update, the iPhone or iPod touch software is updated but your settings and media are not affected. If your device currently has a software version prior to 2.0 (1.x) and you are updating to software version 2.0 or later, all data on your device will be erased in order to perform install the new software. In this case, iTunes will offer to create a one-time media backup of your device depending on what content is on your device and what content is stored in the iTunes Library you are connected to. You should ensure that you have enough free space on your Mac or PC to accommodate a backup that matches the capacity of your iPhone or iPod touch (4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB) if you proceed with the this backup.” [via Mac Rumors]

Apple posts iPhone Configuration Utility for enterprise

Apple has released three versions of its new iPhone Configuration Utility that allow enterprise users to create configuration profiles which can then be used to setup multiple iPhones. Configuration profiles contain “device security policies, VPN configuration information, Wi-Fi settings, APN settings, Exchange account settings, mail settings, and certificates” that allow the devices to work with enterprise systems. The iPhone Configuration Web Utility 1.0 for Mac and Windows allows users to create, sign and distribute configuration profiles using a web browser, while the Mac-specific iPhone Configuration Utility 1.0 for Mac OS X expands these capabilities to include tracking and installation of “provisioning profiles and authorized applications,” and the capture of device information, including console logs. All three version of the iPhone Configuration Utility are available now as free downloads from Apple’s website.

Survey: iPhone smart phone market share growing

The iPhone’s share of the smart phone market continues to grow, according to the latest ChangeWave survey. The survey of 3,567 consumers, which was conducted after Apple’s June 9 announcement of the iPhone 3G, showed that 11% of respondents that own a smart phone had an iPhone, up two percentage points from the previous survey, and only three points away from second-place Palm. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry continued to lead with 42% of the market. Perhaps more interesting are the responses for future purchases. Out of the respondents that plan to purchase a smart phone in the next 90 days, 56% said they were going to buy an iPhone, compared to only 29% in the previous survey (conducted in March), and far above the 23% who said they were planning to buy a BlackBerry. Finally, the iPhone also continues to lead the smart phone market in customer satisfaction, with 78% of owners reporting that they are Very Satisfied with the phone. RIM ranks second with 54% of its customers saying they’re Very Satisfied, while Palm came in last in both metrics, with results of 3% and 29%, respectively.

NetCom adds unlimited data option for iPhone in Norway

In addition to its previously announced iTalk plans for the iPhone 3G, Norwegian iPhone carrier NetCom has added a new plan dubbed iConnect that provides the user with unlimited monthly data for 499 NOK (~$98) a month. Unlike the iTalk plans, which include voice minutes, SMS texts, and data, the iConnect plan offers only unlimited cellular data and Wi-Fi, with charges of 0.45 NOK (~$0.09) per minute and 0.59 NOK (~$0.12) per SMS message. In addition to those charges, the iPhone 3G hardware will be more expensive when the customer selects the iConnect plan instead of an iTalk plan. With a 12-month agreement on the iConnect plan, the 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for 3,290 NOK (~$643), while the 16GB model will sell for 4,190 NOK (~$819). NetCom will begin sales of the iPhone 3G on July 11 at 6 a.m. at its City Gate store in Oslo.

Optus planning midnight launch of iPhone 3G

Optus plans to become the first Australian carrier to offer the iPhone 3G with the midnight opening of its George Street store in Sydney, according to the Age. The carrier plans to open a number of other stores at 7 a.m. Friday morning for the iPhone 3G launch. Optus corporate affairs manager Melissa Clare said that only deposit holders who were Optus customers would be able to pick up their iPhone at the midnight event, adding that deposit holders would receive priority service throughout the day on Friday, although anyone could come in to purchase the device. Clare also said Optus would have events on Friday morning at the Chadstone store in Melbourne and the Queen Street store in Brisbane, with other participating stores around both cities opening for business in the early morning. Competing carriers Telstra and Vodafone have yet to announce details of their launch plans for Australia. [via MDN]

Rogers announces new 6GB data option, launch details for iPhone 3G

Rogers Wireless and Fido have announced a new 6GB data option that will be offered to iPhone 3G customers who activate their phones by August 31, and have also revealed details of their iPhone 3G launch plans. Both will be opening select stores at 8 a.m. local time Friday morning to begin sales of the iPhone 3G, and will celebrate the occasion with free early bird breakfasts and various giveaways. Participating Rogers stores include the 112-10 Dundas Street East location in Toronto, the Montreal store at 1015 rue St. Catherine Ouest, the 690 Bank Street location in Ottawa, the Halifax store at Unit 265, 7001 Mumford Road, the Rogers store at 5244 Falsbridge Gate, NE in Calgary, and the company’s location at 2097 West Broadway in Vancouver. Fido will be hosting its event at its flagship store at 1004 rue St. Catherine Ouest in Montreal.

In addition to the launch details, both companies announced a new 6GB data option that will be offered as a limited time promotional offer for customers who activate by August 31 on a three year contract. The CAD$30 a month option can be added to any in-market voice plan, and both companies will offer customers the choice to select from their existing voice and smartphone data plans and/or additional features to best suit their needs. Finally, existing customers can keep their current voice service plan and select a separate data plan or choose from other plans after checking their individual upgrade eligibility. Rogers Wireless and Fido had previously angered some customers with the announcement of their iPhone service plans, which the upset customers deemed unfair.

Mobistar details plans, pricing for iPhone 3G in Belgium

Mobistar has announced its plans and pricing for the iPhone 3G in Belgium. In accordance with local law, Reuters reports, iPhone 3Gs sold by Mobistar will be unlocked, and will not be sold with a mandatory subscription. The exclusive Belgian carrier will sell the 8GB iPhone 3G for €525 (~$825) and the 16GB model for €615 (~$967), a price that CEO Benoit Scheen noted was “above that in other countries.” Mobistar will offer three plans (Translated link) for the iPhone 3G, all of which are subject to a 24-month contract. The My30 plan offers three hours of talk time or 300 SMS messages and 200MB of data for €30 (~$47) a month, the My45 plan offers six hours of talk time or 600 SMS messages and 500MB of data for €45 (~$71) a month, and the My60 plan offers nine hours of talk time or 900 SMS and 1GB of data for €60 (~$94) a month. Mobistar will launch the iPhone 3G in Belgium on July 11.

Apple: 15-minute setup process for iPhone 3G

In an interview with Bloomberg, Apple retail chief Ron Johnson said the company expects the in-store setup process for the iPhone 3G to take around 15 minutes, including credit check and activation. “Our expectation is that in 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll be set up and ready to go,” said Johnson, adding that each of Apple’s more than 185 retail stores in the U.S. are aiming to handle about 100 customers an hour. Speaking about supply, Johnson said, “You’ve got pent-up demand because we haven’t had phones for a while. Our goal is to always have enough supply for every customer.” Johnson also said customers would need a credit card and Social Security number for activation, mirroring Apple’s “What to bring” information from its website, and added that although the stores will be handling 30 customers at a time, they won’t be rushed. “We’ll spend as long as it takes with our customers to make sure they’re happy with the phone,” he said. Apple will begin sales of the iPhone 3G at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, July 11.

Baig: iPhone 3G ‘worth the wait,’ 3.75/4 stars

Contrasting with Wall Street Journal and NY Times reviews published today, USA Today’s Edward Baig offered almost universal praise for the iPhone 3G, awarding it 3.75 out of 4 stars and “an enthusiastic thumbs up.” In his review, Baig cites disappointment over the device’s inability to access AT&T’s 3G network “in parts of my northern New Jersey neighborhood and elsewhere,” but lauds each of its other features, stating that “the list of reasons the device doesn’t make sense for a certain class of users is shrinking fast.”

Singled out for special praise were Apple’s “improved overall audio quality” and addition of GPS to the device, which was accurate “as I drove along in my car, searched for nearby pizza places, and requested directions. Alas, the feature begs for the audible turn-by-turn directions found on Samsung’s Instinct and others.”

Baig also confirmed 3G speed improvements seen by other reviewers. “It generally took 10 to 30 seconds to load popular websites through 3G, a lot zippier than when I accessed the sites on Edge. Oddly, parts of the pages sometimes showed up first on the older iPhone screen. But pages always finished loading on the 3G device first, often by a half minute or more.”

Unlike The Wall Street Journal, which noted that battery life was a major issue, Baig suggested that the two devices were similar in performance. “I started receiving low battery warnings toward the end of a busy work day;” he said. “I found myself charging the device overnight, the same as with the older iPhone.” However, Baig cited battery charging issues, saying that he “couldn’t juice up the latest device using my Bose SoundDock or Belkin car kit. Apple says there will be adapters to permit charging with certain older accessories.” According to Baig, this issue was attributable to iPhone 3G’s lack of compatibility with FireWire charging devices; it remains to be seen whether the new device behaves differently from the original iPhone in this regard.

Mossberg: iPhone 3G ‘much faster,’ with ‘hidden costs,’ battery issues

Reviewing the iPhone 3G for The Wall Street Journal, Walter Mossberg today said that the device “mostly keeps its promises,” but is saddled by “two big hidden costs:” weaker battery performance and AT&T price plans that “effectively negated the iPhone’s up-front price cut.”

On upbeat notes, Mossberg praised iPhone 3G’s data performance, which he said outstripped Apple’s clams of twice the prior model’s speed. “The new iPhone typically was between three and five times as fast as the old one,” Mossberg noted, achieving speeds of 200 to 500kbps in Washington and New York versus 70 to 150kbps on the original iPhone. He also offered generally strong praise for the device’s audio, citing a “much louder” speaker for music and calls, but noted that “the new phone produced an echo when used with the built-in Bluetooth system in my car.” His initial “overall” conclusion was positive: “I found it to be a more capable version of an already excellent device.”

However, the columnist noted previously unreported battery and calling issues that might concern some potential buyers. “n my tests,” said Mossberg, “the iPhone 3G’s battery was drained much more quickly in a typical day of use than the battery on the original iPhone,” a result he attributed to 3G network power drain. “In my test of voice calling, I got 4 hours and 27 minutes, short of Apple’s maximum claim and nearly three hours less than what I recorded in the same test last year on the original iPhone.” Practically, this meant a mid-day loss of power: “I found the battery indicator on the new 3G model slipping below 20% by early afternoon or midafternoon on some days, and it entirely ran out of juice on one day.” While 3G network power requirements aren’t unique to the iPhone 3G, he notes, “some other 3G competitors… have replaceable batteries. The iPhone doesn’t.”

Mossberg also noted mixed performance in real world calling situations, finding certain coverage improvements, but also dropped calls. “In New York City, riding in a taxi along the Hudson, one important call was dropped three times on the new iPhone,” he said. “Finally, I borrowed a cheap Verizon phone and got perfect reception.” The review ended with a less positive conclusion than his overall assessment suggested: “If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. ...But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it’s worth getting the new hardware.”

Pogue: First iPhone ‘stunning,’ iPhone 3G ‘nice upgrade’

Reviewing the iPhone 3G for The New York Times, technology columnist David Pogue offered light praise for the device, contrasting the “stunning” first iPhone with the new model. “When the iPhone 3G goes on sale in AT&T and Apple stores, iPhone Mania will be considerably more muted. That’s partly because the mystery is gone, partly because the AT&T service costs more and partly because there aren’t many new features in what Apple is calling the iPhone 3G.”

In his review, Pogue touches on each of the iPhone 3G’s major new features, caveating many because of unexpected limitations. The “much faster” 3G Internet feature, he notes, is not usable in 10 states, with 16 others having three or fewer covered cities, while the device’s GPS functionality is limited—according to Apple—by its antenna. “Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with the G.P.S.,” Pogue says. “[T]he metal of a car or the buildings of Manhattan are often enough to block the iPhone’s view of the sky, leaving it just as confused as you are.”

Additionally, Apple’s claim of a half-priced phone is “not really” accurate given the heightened expense of its required calling plans. “y the end of your two-year contract, the iPhone 3G will have cost you more than the old iPhone,” says Pogue, “not less.” Still, he describes the device as “a nice upgrade,” and notes that “new buyers will generally be delighted.”

Praised by Pogue are the flush headphone port, the unit’s smaller power adapter, and its audio quality, which he notes “has taken a gigantic step forward. You sound crystal clear to your callers, and they sound crystal clear to you. In fact, few cellphones sound this good.” His favorite feature? “[T]he really big deal is the iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store, neither of which requires buying a new iPhone,” said Pogue, which “may come as a refreshing surprise to planned-obsolescence conspiracy theorists—and everyone who stood in line last year.”

Optimus reveals iPhone 3G plans, pricing for Portugal

Optimus has revealed its plans and pricing for the iPhone 3G in Portugal. The company will offer both pre- and post-paid non-contract service for the iPhone, along with traditional contract plans. With pre- and post-paid plans, the iPhone 3G will sell for €499 (~$786) for the 8GB model and €599.90 (~$943) for the 16GB. iPhone Total is the pre-paid iPhone service option, offering 250 SMS messages to other Optimus lines, 250MB of data, and a voice and non-Optimus SMS charge of €0.17 (~$0.27) for €20 (~$31) a month. Post-paid options include the €15 (~$24) a month iPhone 15 plan, which offers 100 Optimus SMS, 100MB of data, and a voice and non-Optimus SMS charge of €0.15 (~$0.24), the iPhone 30, which brings 300 Optimus texts, 300MB of data, and a voice and SMS rate of €0.13 (~$0.20) for €30 (~$47) a month, and the iPhone 50 plan, which offers a voice and SMS charge of €0.10 (~$0.16), 500 Optimus texts, and 500MB of data with a monthly charge of €50 (~$79).

In addition, Optimus will offer three contract plans for the iPhone 3G. The €30 plan will offer 100 Optimus texts, 100MB of data, and a voice and non-Optimus rate of €0.15, the €45 plan will offer 300 Optimus SMS, 300MB of data, and a voice and SMS rate of €0.13, and the €65 plan will offer a voice and call charge of €0.10, 500 Optimus texts, and 500MB of data. With the €30 plan, the 8GB iPhone 3G will cost €250 (~$393) and the 16GB model €350 (~$550), while selection of the €45 plan brings the prices down to €200 (~$315) and €300 ($472), respectively. Finally, with the €65 plan, the 8GB model will sell for €150 (~$236), while the 16GB model will run €250 (~$393). Optimus will begin sales of the iPhone 3G on July 11.

iPhone 3G Apple retail sales limited to U.S. stores

Based on information found on Apple’s international websites, it appears that sales of the iPhone 3G in Apple’s company-operated retail outlets will be limited to stores in the United States. Apple previously sold the first-generation iPhone at its stores in the United Kingdom, but those stores are conspicuously absent from the “Where to Buy” page on the company’s U.K. website, and are also absent from similar pages for ItalyAustralia and Japan. Currently circulating reports claim that Apple’s decision to not sell the iPhone 3G in its Canadian stores was a response to consumer outrage at Rogers Wireless’ service plans for the device, however, confirmation of Apple’s decision was received alongside Rogers’ announcement, making this scenario highly unlikely. A more likely reason for the decision would be that Apple’s international retail stores may lack the ability to handle in-store activation, and the company may also want to avoid potential confusion in countries where the iPhone is being offered by multiple carriers.

Vodafone lists iPhone 3G pricing for Italy, Portugal, New Zealand

Vodafone has announced its plans and pricing for the iPhone 3G in Italy, Portugal, and New Zealand. In Italy (Translated link), Vodafone will offer three main plans - Facile Large, Special Edition, and Facile Medium. Facile Large offers 900 minutes and 900 SMS for €99 (~$156) a month, Special Edition offers a maximum of 7,000 minutes and 7,000 SMS to Vodafone numbers in addition to 250 all-purpose minutes and texts for €79 (~$124) a month, while Facile Medium includes 400 minutes and 400 texts for €59 (~$93) a month. All three plans offer 600MB of data. With the Large plan on a two-year contract, the 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for €49 (~$77) and the 16GB model for €119 (~$187), while selection of the Special Edition plan brings the prices to €99 and €169 (~$265), respectively. A two-year agreement on the Medium plan sets the prices at €199 (~$313) for the 8GB model and €269 (~$423) for the 16GB version. None of the plans include free Wi-Fi.

In Portugal, Vodafone will offer three iPhone plans — Best iPhone 100, Best iPhone 230, and Best iPhone 500, each including 250MB of data, and either 100, 230, or 500 minutes and texts, respectively. Monthly pricing is €29.90 (~$47) for the 100 plan, €44.90 (~$71) for the 230, and €64.90 (~$102) for the 500; an iPhone data add-on will be offered for customers who want to use the iPhone 3G with an existing plan, it will include 250MB of data for €19.90 (~$31) a month. iPhone 3G handset pricing will range between €129.90 (~$204) and €389.90 (~$613) depending on the model and which plan the customer chooses for their 24-month contract; the phone will also be offered without a contract for €499.90 (~$786) for the 8GB model and €599.90 (~$943) for the 16GB.

Finally, in New Zealand, Vodafone will again offer three plans for the iPhone 3G: iPhone 250, iPhone 500, and iPhone 1GB. The 250 plans offers 120 minutes and 250MB of data for NZD80 (~$60) a month, the 500 plans steps up to 250 minutes and 500MB of data for NZD130 (~$98) a month, and the 1GB plan offers 600 minutes and 1GB of data for NZD250 (~$188) a month. All three plans include 600 SMS texts, and data add-ons will be offered for current customers for NZD29.95 (~$23) a month for 200MB and NZD49.95 (~$38) for 1GB. Pricing on the iPhone 3G handset will vary depending on what 24-month plan the customer chooses: it will cost NZD549 (~$413) for the 8GB and NZD699 (~$526) for the 16GB with the 250 plan, NZD449 (~$338) and NZD599 (~$451) with the 500 plan, and NZD199 (~$150) and NZD349 (~$262) with the 1GB plan; both models will also be offered without a contract for NZD979 (~$736) and NZD1129 (~$849), respectively.

iPhone 3G unboxing photos appear

The first iPhone 3G unboxing photos have appeared on an iPhonePortugal.com forum. The iPhone 3G box appears quite similar to that of the original iPhone, made from hard, black cardboard with a top that lifts off to offer access to the phone, manual, and included accessories. The iPhone itself is presented in a black tray, as opposed to the clear plastic tray that came with the original, and both the new SIM card removal tool and slim new charger are pictured, as well. In addition to the unboxing photos, a brief gallery of an iPhone 3G in-store display and demo unit have been posted by Swiss site Gadget O’ Mac. The iPhone 3G will go on sale this Friday, June 11. [via Engadget]

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