Waiting for the fourth (at 4 a.m.)

A rush of people poured into Best Buy at Metro Pointe Thursday morning for the official launch of Apple's newest smartphone.

Although doors didn't open until 7 a.m. — three hours early — Apple fans started lining up Wednesday night to get their hands on the new Apple iPhone 4.

By 9 a.m., the line of several hundred people, many equipped with folding chairs, hats and soft drinks for the long wait ahead, curved along South Coast Drive in Costa Mesa.

The newest generation of Apple smartphones is thinner than previous models, with an improved display and a new video-conferencing feature that allows users to talk face-to-face over a Wi-Fi connection. The phone is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities for $199 and $299, respectively.

Tustin resident Jeff Allen, 37, showed up at 6 a.m. because he had been able to make a reservation for the phone in June.

At 6 a.m., the line stretched to Bear Street and Sunflower Avenue.

Store employees told Allen that they had stocked 1,700 to 1,800 iPhones in preparation for the release.

A self-labeled "gadget-head," Allen said he has owned first- and third-generation iPhones and is holding out hopes that the latest model will have all the past kinks in reception and dropped calls worked out, he said.

"It was a tough sell for me to stick with AT&T," Allen said of the iPhone's exclusive service provider. "If they can fix the reception, it will be worth it."

The new iPhone is 4G (short for fourth generation) model also boasts an improved camera with a flash.

A second shorter line curved around the back entrance to the store, where the people sitting on the pavement appeared decidedly less pepped up for the big day.

People without phone reservations were being allowed into the store by a 10:1 ratio, said Huntington Beach resident Clare Briance.

Briance was waiting in line with her boyfriend, Dwight Bragdon, who was visiting from San Diego to keep her company in line.

"But more for the phone," Bragdon said, with Briance quickly agreeing.

Things were "pretty charged" when she and Bragdon showed up at 4:45 a.m., Briance said.

Shoppers were not allowed onto mall property until 5 a.m., and when they were, it was like a stampede, she said.

"One guy dropped his keys in the street and kept running," Briance said. "I wanted to tell him that he wasn't going to get very far with his new phone without those."

At 9 a.m., and very nearly at the front of the stand-by line, was Santa Ana resident Phil Thavorn.

"I tried to get a reservation, but Apple's website was not working and by the time it was fixed, I was told that all the phones were reserved already," he said. "So here I am."

Thavorn arrived at 3:30 a.m.

"I didn't realize there would be such a long wait," said Thavorn, who had taken time off of work to come to Best Buy. "I planned on taking half the day off, but I will most likely be here longer."

He did not plan on leaving empty-handed

"What can I say? It's the new iPhone, that's all."

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