Apple CSR confirms: No iPhone 3G online sales, in-store activation a must

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Reader Steve has been chatting with Apple.com CSRs today – he’s already talked to two – and they’ve both confirmed my worst fears: you will not be able to order the IP3G online and it will only be available in stores and it will be activated in store, regardless. The transcript follows, CSR’s replies in bold.

What does this mean? It means getting an unlocked iPhone will be incrimentally harder and considerably more expensive. Even if you pay for the phone and cancel your contract for a $175 fee, the phone will cost around $500, all told. While this is good news for Apple and AT&T – the unlocking imperative just got quite expensive – it’s bad news for folks who haven’t yet gotten iPhones in their respective countries and/or T-Mobile fans who don’t want to switch to AT&T.

Hi, my name is Chris. Welcome to Apple!
Good morning.
Welcome back!

Good morning. I have a question about the iPhone
and the Activation process

Sure.

Will activation be the same as the previous version? Simply by using iTunes?

As previous agents had mentioned, activation will be done in store.

I was hoping for a different answer this time haha.

Unfortunately there is no different answer to give.

So will this be 1/2 activation in store and 1/2 at home? Or full activation at the store?

Unfortunately not all details are released yet.

Do I need to sign a contract w/AT&T at activation?

Are you currently with AT&T?

no

Okay, then yes, you would need to sign a contract.

Can I not just activate it without contract and use it as an iPod?

That is not an option, no…
However..

My current contract isn’t up for a while, my iPod nano died on me and I want to get an iPhone eventually…

If you just wanted the iPOd portion, we do offer the iPod touch

I’m going to switch to AT&T soon

when my contract is up

I see. Terrific. You can definitely get the iPhone once your contract is up.

I heard AT&T would allow us to use our iPhones as Wi-Fi iPods…

If you wanted that, as I mentioned, the iPod touch is actually exactly that.
But the iPhone needs to be activated for the feaures to work.

But I want to have the PHONE part when I switch (instead of having to buy TWO devices)

I understand…
You’ll have to wait until your contract is up if you wanted the iPhone.
I understand. However, to purchase the iPhone, you’ll need to sign the contract with AT&T

Wow. That REALLY isn’t a good deal.

Thanks for your help.

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