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iPhone 4 goes on sale at AT&T stores

The iPhone 4 madness continues as customers line up outside AT&T stores looking to get their hands on Apple's newest mobile phone.

Dozens of people lined up early Tuesday morning in front of this AT&T store to get the new iPhone 4. The store was sold out of the phones by 7:30 a.m., a half hour after it opened.
Dozens of people lined up early Tuesday morning in front of this AT&T store to get the new iPhone 4. The store was sold out of the phones by 7:30 a.m., a half hour after it opened.
Maggie Reardon/CNET

NEW YORK CITY--Lines formed early at AT&T stores here as the iPhone 4 went on sale, and stores quickly sold out of stock.

Customers started lining up as early as 5 a.m. EDT in front of the AT&T store on 95th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. By 7:20 a.m. the store was out of the 32GB phone. And by 7:30 a.m. store representatives said they would not have enough 16GB phones to make it through the 60 or so people left in line, which snaked down the block.

Potential buyers were given the option to wait in line to sign up for an iPhone 4, and come back later in the day to pick it up after the store receives more shipments. Sales representatives said they weren't allowed to say how many phones the store received prior to the launch or how many they'd be getting in on Tuesday.

Dave Norfleet-Vilaro, who lives on the Upper West Side near the AT&T store, said he had gone to the Apple Store at noon on Friday, the day after the iPhone 4 launched, but could not get his hands on one. Apparently, arriving at 6:50 a.m., 10 minutes before the AT&T store opened, was also not early enough. Norfleet-Vilaro was one of the many people standing in line who would have to wait to pick up an iPhone 4 until later that day. Still, Norfleet-Vilaro, a loyal Apple fan, said he was not deterred. He planned to continue waiting in line so that he could order the phone and pick it up later.

"I don't mind," he said. "At this point I might as well wait. I really love the design of the Apple product. But it's just ironic that I am waiting at an AT&T store where I've received the worst customer service."

Unlike Apple and other retail stores, which started selling the iPhone 4 on Thursday, AT&T that day only sold phones that had been preordered. It waited to start selling the device to walk-ins until Tuesday.

It should not come as a surprise that lines were long at AT&T stores this morning. The iPhone 4 is an even bigger hit than previous versions of the device. Apple reported Monday that over the weekend it had sold 1.7 million devices in the first three days the phone was on sale.

Demand is so high that many people looking to buy an iPhone 4 are having trouble finding one in stock.

Norfleet-Vilaro said sales reps at the Apple store on Fifth Avenue were answering phone calls over the weekend this way: "We have no iPhone 4s in stock. And we don't know when we will be getting more shipments."

It seems that the reported issues with the iPhone 4's antenna have not dampened enthusiasm for the device. Stefani Bennett, also of the Upper West Side, came to the AT&T store at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to make sure she could get an iPhone 4. She said she wasn't concerned about reports that gripping the lower left-hand corner of the phone might cause reception issues.

If she discovers it's a problem for her, she said, she'll simply buy a rubber bumper that fits around the device.

"It's not that big of a deal," she said. "I've always had crappy reception with my iPhones. I'll just get the bumper. It looks a little tacky, but if I have to, I'll buy it."