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HolidayBuyer's Guide

San Francisco line

Apple employee

Guy with sign

Apple employees in blue

Apple employee greets the crowd

First in line

Ellis Street

Cupcakes

Mob scene

Scene setter

Way end of line

iPad ad

Line inside Fifth Ave. store

Trying to use FaceTime

Activating the iPhone 4

RadioShack in Brooklyn

Doors open in Palo Alto

Stack of iPhones

Hands on with the iPhone 4

Bumper mania

Brothers and their iPhone 4s

Upper West Side

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.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
San Francisco Apple store employees tear down the black curtains hanging in the windows at 6:20 a.m. PDT Thursday.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
An entrepreneurial line-waiter outside Apple's downtown San Francisco store.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Apple employees dressed in blue are out in full force.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
An Apple employee in San Francisco greets the crowd.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The media quickly swarms this man, who was first to walk out of the Apple store in San Francisco with an iPhone 4.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The line outside the San Francisco Apple store stretching around the corner and down the next block of Ellis Street.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
All this waiting in line calls for cupcakes and coffee.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Quite the mob outside the San Francisco Apple store.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Another San Francisco scene-setter.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by James Martin/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Marguerite Reardon/CNET
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."

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Caroline McCarthy/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Josh Lowensohn/CNET
In the Palo Alto store, brand-spanking-new iPhone 4s prepare to meet their buyers.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Josh Lowensohn/CNET
Hands on with the iPhone 4 at the Apple Store in Palo Alto.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Josh Lowensohn/CNET
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.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Marguerite Reardon
Updated:
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