Video: New iPhone draws big crowds

Petras Barcas

The iPhone 3G or iPhone 2.0. Call it whatever you want, but the new gadget released Friday drew between 300 and 400 people to the Apple store in Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Ill.

Mall security said people were officially allowed to line up for the new device at 5 a.m., but one man got an early start with his friends at 2 a.m. He was the first in line, and the mall “looked like a ghost town.”

“It’s the latest and greatest. Why not be here?” said Jeff Poplawski of Lemont, Ill.

Poplawski said he waited in line for a Playstation 3 video game system upon its release, and was not able to get one.

“This time I’m going home with an iPhone, that much is certain,” said Poplawski, who did not bring chairs and stood for six hours until the doors opened. “I’m not tired now, but working eight hours today isn’t going to be fun.”

Apple is touting the new iPhone as “twice as fast at half the price.” Officially announced June 9, the company boasts fast third generation data transfer and built in Wi-Fi connectivity.

The device is priced at $199 for the 8 gigabyte model, and $299 for the 16 gigabyte version. The drop in price — the original model was sold for $400 — seemed to have worked in moving units, although an Apple representative did point out stores only were selling one phone per customer.

“I’m definitely getting the 16 gigabyte one,” said Mohammad Akhtar of Glendale Heights, Ill., who arrived at 6:45 a.m. to claim his spot in line. “I’m here early. It’s go big or go home.”

Some people were not surprised at the large crowd and even attend events like this regularly.

“I’m insane. I come out to all these things,” said Connie Fillippelli of Northlake, Ill. “I guess I could have done the smart thing and gone to the AT&T store and bought one, but there’s no fun in that.”

Fillippelli said she has previously waited in line early for other Apple products, including a G4 Macintosh and Apple software.

Kathy Hussey of Burr Ridge, Ill., fought the crowds to get an iPhone for her daughter.

“If she gets an 'A' in biology class this summer, I’m going to give it to her as a gift,” said Hussey, who was surprised at the crowds. “I was optimistic until I got here and saw all the people. I’m not sure if I can get a phone today, but we’ll see.”

Tech Tip: Reviewing the iPhone

If you’re not one of those who stood in line for hours to get the new iPhone but are still considering purchasing one, here’s what the tech experts have to say about it:

Edward C. Baig, USA Today: “It’s cheaper, faster and a lot friendlier for business. Apple’s blockbuster smartphone already had nifty features such as visual voicemail, a splendid built-in video iPod and the best mobile Web browser I’ve ever used. With GPS newly added to the mix, this handheld marvel has no equal among consumer-oriented smartphones.”

Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: “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. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. 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.”

David Pogue, New York Times: “So the iPhone 3G is a nice upgrade. It more than keeps pace with advancing technology, and new buyers will generally be delighted. … But it’s not so much better that it turns all those original iPhones into has-beens.”

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