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San Francisco line

The iPhone 4, the fourth-generation of Apple's iconic smartphone, officially became available to consumers on Thursday. CNET has been checking out Apple stores and other venues to see how long the lines are, whether there are any issues with activation of the iPhone, and whatever else might pop up.

First up, we take you to Apple's downtown San Francisco store early Thursday morning, where the line stretched for blocks.

Editors' note: This slideshow was updated at 11:40 a.m. PDT with photos from Palo Alto, Calif., Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Apple employee

San Francisco Apple store employees tear down the black curtains hanging in the windows at 6:20 a.m. PDT Thursday.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Guy with sign

An entrepreneurial line-waiter outside Apple's downtown San Francisco store.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Apple employees in blue

Apple employees dressed in blue are out in full force.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Apple employee greets the crowd

An Apple employee in San Francisco greets the crowd.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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First in line

The media quickly swarms this man, who was first to walk out of the Apple store in San Francisco with an iPhone 4.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Ellis Street

The line outside the San Francisco Apple store stretching around the corner and down the next block of Ellis Street.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Cupcakes

All this waiting in line calls for cupcakes and coffee.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Mob scene

Quite the mob outside the San Francisco Apple store.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Scene setter

Another San Francisco scene-setter.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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Way end of line

Gonna be a long wait for these men at the end of the line. In the course of things Thursday morning, CNET's Erica Ogg heard that the word in the San Francisco store was that the wait for customers without a reservation could be on the order of 4 hours.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:James Martin/CNET
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iPad ad

Earlier in the day, this was the scene outside the 14th Street Apple Store in Manhattan. Note the billboard for the iPhone's younger sibling, the iPad.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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Line inside Fifth Ave. store

Even after customers get into the Apple Store--this is the one on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan--they still have to wait in line again to get their new iPhone 4.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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Trying to use FaceTime

These two gents at the Fifth Avenue store were eager to show off the new FaceTime video chat application. Once they figured out that they initiated the video call by clicking on the FaceTime button in their contacts, the application didn't work for one of them. Even though FaceTime video calls are made only over a Wi-Fi connection, users still need to have a 3G connection to initiate the call. And unfortunately for these friends, one of their phones wasn't getting a 3G cellular signal from AT&T in the Apple store.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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Activating the iPhone 4

After iPhone buyers get their phones, an Apple sales rep activates the device. The activation process seemed to go smoothly by and large, and iPhone 4 users typically have been up and running within 20 to 25 minutes.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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RadioShack in Brooklyn

If you were in Brooklyn, N.Y., this morning and in the mood to buy an iPhone, you had to go to RadioShack. There are no Apple Stores in Brooklyn.

The 15th person in line just ahead of the store's 9 a.m. opening time was a girl who said her boyfriend was in line at the Apple Store on 14th Street in Manhattan. He preordered a phone there and said Thursday morning that even the preorder line was moving at a snail's pace; she, meanwhile, preordered at the Montague Street RadioShack: "I'll probably be back in bed before he even gets to the front of the line."

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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Doors open in Palo Alto

Back to the West Coast now, where we see the doors being flung open to the Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif. CNET's Josh Lowensohn noted that the line here early on seemed considerably longer than the one for the iPad earlier this year.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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Stack of iPhones

In the Palo Alto store, brand-spanking-new iPhone 4s prepare to meet their buyers.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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Hands on with the iPhone 4

Hands on with the iPhone 4 at the Apple Store in Palo Alto.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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Bumper mania

In Palo Alto, people were buying up a lot of $29 rubber-and-plastic bumpers, especially in black, for the edges of the iPhone 4.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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Brothers and their iPhone 4s

CNET ran into brothers Christopher and James Nicholson, who camped out overnight at the Palo Alto store. Christopher said he'd done the same when the Palo Alto store first opened, but that it was his brother's first time doing so. Another first for James was the latest iPhone--he had not owned any of the previous iterations.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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Upper West Side

By midday in Manhattan, the line at the Upper West Side Apple Store was still going strong, but it was much shorter than earlier in the day.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Marguerite Reardon
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