Countdown to iPhone day, and more iPhone border issues


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Be prepared. The Boy Scouts’ motto could double as the mantra for iPhone customers.

The iPhone 3G, which runs on faster data networks, goes on sale in Apple and AT&T stores Friday at 8 a.m. across U.S. time zones. And if you thought it would be as easy to plop down your $199 for a low-end iPhone 3G as it was to hop on a commercial flight before 9-11, think again.


Today, Apple posted tips on what to do before going to buy an iPhone. On the day you intend to visit the store, don’t forget a credit card, social security number (for the credit check), a government-issued photo ID and information about your current wireless account. Apple also suggests spending some time organizing your current phone’s e-mail, contacts, music, photos and other information so they can sync more easily with your new iPhone.

Buying an iPhone for your company? Head to an AT&T store. The company has an assortment of calling plans for the business user.

The truly prepared know that no matter the situation, bring a little extra food, water and reading material for long waits. But once you get in the door, Apple should be able to process you through the store in 15 minutes, Ron Johnson, Apple’s retail chief, told Bloomberg today. Apple’s 185 U.S. stores are ready to handle about 100 customers an hour, he said.

And now for more border issues with the iPhone 3G. On Monday, I wrote about the Latin American wireless carrier America Movil selling the device for as low as $75 with a two-year service plan (compared with $199 with a two-year AT&T service plan for the low version in the U.S.). The difference: $124, more than enough to pay for the gas to Tijuana and back if you live in L.A.

A call to a spokeswoman for America Movil’s Mexican subsidiary, Telcel, said an iPhone 3G buyer would need information necessary to do a credit check, including a ZIP Code in Mexico -- so jumping across the border for a cheaper version will be tough. The phone will work in the U.S., thanks to the roaming agreement Telcel has with AT&T. But she said it would be ‘kind of crazy,’ because you’ll most likely be paying international roaming rates.

Meanwhile, up north, a spat between Apple and its partner in Canada, Rogers Wireless, means that there might be a shortage of iPhone 3Gs there come Friday, according to AppleInsider. Apple is unhappy about Rogers’ pricey 3-year service plans foisted on consumers and has diverted iPhones to Europe. AppleInsider says that Apple won’t sell the iPhone 3G at its own stores. But CNET says Apple isn’t selling the iPhone 3G at any of its Apple stores outside the U.S. Apple didn’t return our calls or e-mails seeking clarification.

What’s a Canadian to do? Cross the U.S. border and buy here? Not so fast. You will need a U.S. government issued I.D. for the credit check on the two-year service plan you would have to buy here. And then, of course, to phone home to Canada, you would have to pay big for international calls or buy an international plan.

-- Michelle Quinn