I want to buy an iPhone, but where?
December 10, 2007 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Where is the best place to buy an iPhone? Apple store, Apple website, AT&T store, or AT&T website? Are there any issues such as getting a better warranty or less painful service when buying from a certain place?
posted by entropic to Technology (18 answers total)
No better option. At any of the 4 viable outlets you just get the phone in a box and leave. You have to register/activate the phone on iTunes.
posted by hllclmbr at 5:25 PM on December 10, 2007

The AT&T store is clearly the worst, since it's staffed by cell phone salesmen who want you to buy some other phone that makes them a bigger commision.
posted by smackfu at 5:31 PM on December 10, 2007

Chances are pretty good that you'll prefer the Apple store.
posted by Malor at 5:32 PM on December 10, 2007

The Apple store or Apple website are definitely better than the AT&T options.

In my opinion, the less you deal with a cell phone carrier the better.
posted by tomierna at 5:33 PM on December 10, 2007

(well, over the AT&T sources.... the website is fine too, and possibly more convenient, but a little slower.)
posted by Malor at 5:33 PM on December 10, 2007

Apple Store is the best place, and if there's something wrong with it, they'll swap it out for a new one during the exchange period.
posted by birdherder at 5:37 PM on December 10, 2007


I was on vacation in South Beach (first ever snowbird vacation!) and just happened to walk by an Apple store. I've never been to an Apple store. I walked in, a guy asked me if he could help me. I said I wanted an iPhone. He gave me the box, I gave him my credit card and then he asked if I wanted the receipt or to have it mailed. I gave him my email address (he had a portable palm with card swipe and printer) and signed the screen and was on my way. No bag, no paper receipt, no line to wait in, no contract negotiation, nothing!

It blew my mind!
posted by furtive at 5:42 PM on December 10, 2007

I tried to get one at three different AT&T stores, all of which were out of them, before finally going to the Apple store. One AT&T lady said they don't get very many to sell. So my advice is, save some time and just go to the Apple Store!
posted by Squee at 5:50 PM on December 10, 2007

Not directly related to the question, but since you mentioned warranty, I'll toss this in. I believe Apple is still requiring credit cards to purchase iPhones. If that's the case, then there's a good chance you've got an extended warranty (under "Buy the product on a credit card") without having to do anything. This can be quite useful if something bad happens to your shiny new iPhone in the second year.
posted by Nelsormensch at 5:50 PM on December 10, 2007

I'll buck the trend and say that, if you already have an AT&T plan, it would be best to visit the AT&T store for the right instructions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2007

That is, instructions for transitioning to an iPhone with your existing plan switched over properly, as it isn't obvious going through the iTunes activation process how this is done.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:10 PM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone. Too bad there's not an Apple store here, but there's one in Dallas and we go there fairly often, so that would be semi-convenient for an exchange.

B.P., are you referring to instructions as far as rate plans, setup, or...?
posted by entropic at 6:10 PM on December 10, 2007

I've bought one at each. There's not really any difference. Apple services the warranty on them, so you won't ever take a broken one back to an AT&T store. I think the people at the AT&T store have been given very clear instructions that when someone asks for an iPhone, they aren't supposed to give them the hard sell on accessories and stuff.

Given the crowds these days, I'd say Apple.com is your best bet.
posted by AaRdVarK at 6:49 PM on December 10, 2007

I was an existing AT&T customer and activating my iPhone over iTunes went quickly and easily. It was so painless, I can't remember any of the steps.
posted by advicepig at 6:50 PM on December 10, 2007

Don't buy one overseas. I was in the apple store last week and a woman had purchased her iPhone somewhere that involved Euros- there was a problem with it and since it was purchased overseas, the Apple Store couldn't help with the warrantee. I didn't hear the rest of the story, and I may be inaccurate- this is quite literally hearsay, but still annoying- the lady had to mail her phone back to somewhere in the E.U. for processing.
posted by arnicae at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: Everything I've seen says May or June for the new one (3G, maybe other stuff too). I'm asking this question for my wife, and I don't think she'll want to wait that long. I may end up getting one though, and if I do I'll probably wait for the newer one.
posted by entropic at 9:15 PM on December 10, 2007

I have to say, I had absolutely no trouble buying mine at the AT&T store. Just be clear about what you're looking for (and be aware that they'll probably try to sell you a case/charger, but you're not obligated to say yes) and have your credit card ready; I don't even think I had to show any proof that I was an existing AT&T customer, since the registration is completely online. Oh, and go in the middle of the day, if at all possible. ;)
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:06 AM on December 11, 2007

Apple Store or Apple website.

And buy the Applecare package for the iPhone while you're there. (What's another $70 on a $400 purchase? Not quite an 18% uplift to extend warranty and tech support coverage to two years, the full length of your required AT&T contract? No-brainer to me.)

I love my two Macs, and I *never* buy the extended warranties at the store as a general rule, but you don't want to be an Apple product owner without the prepaid AppleCare extended warranty and tech support.
posted by enrevanche at 3:29 AM on December 11, 2007

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