iPhone 4 Pre-orders: What You Need to Know

Apple will begin accepting pre-orders for the new iPhone for on Tuesday, June 15, for delivery when the combination iPod and smartphone’s official release on June 24. Apple, however, isn’t the only company planning on letting customers pre-order their new iPhone.

Apple Apple introduced the iPhone 4 during Steve Jobs’s keynote presentation at its World Wide Developer Conference on June 7. At the time, Apple confirmed it would begin accepting pre-orders for delivery on June 24, although the company has remained tight-lipped over whether or not it will let customers reserve iPhones for in-store pickup.

Just like when the iPad pre-order program began, Apple will also let buyers reserve an iPhone 4 for in-store pickup on the 24th. While you won’t get an iPhone delivered to your door, reserving an iPhone means you don’t have to pay until you pick yours up — which gives you a few more days to save up.

Reserving an iPhone for pickup means you don’t have to get up early to wait in line at your local Apple Store, but you won’t have all day to drop by, either. Apple will hold your iPhone for most of the day, but if you don’t get in before the reservation cut-off time, your iPhone goes back into the pile for anyone to buy.

iPhone 4 pre-orders can be placed online at the Apple Web site, and in the company’s retail stores. In-store pre-orders, however, will still be handled online, so the only benefit of placing an order in an Apple Store is that employees will be on hand to answer any questions you have before you you click the “Buy” button.

Apple’s usual policy of charging your credit card at the time of shipment will likely apply, so don’t expect to see the transaction appear on your account until next week.

Where to Buy
AT&T Like Apple, AT&T will offer a pre-order program, although you won’t likely get your iPhone on the 24th. Several AT&T stores have said that you’ll be charged up front for your new iPhone, and that there aren’t any guarantees that you’ll get it on launch day.

The company hasn’t said why availability might be delayed, although this might be situation where Apple is holding back inventory to make sure its own stores have enough in stock. AT&T has historically had fewer units on hand for iPhone launch days compared to Apple’s own stores.

Best Buy Shoppers hoping to avoid long launch day lines can pre-order an iPhone 4 at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations starting on June 15, although the process is more like a reservation. With a US$50 deposit, Best Buy will hold an iPhone 4 for you on launch day. You pay the balance when you pick up your new phone.

Radio Shack While it may not be the most glamorous place to pick up a new iPhone, it’s an option that many people overlook. Like Best Buy, Radio Shack will take a $50 deposit and collect the balance when you pick up your iPhone on June 24.

The company is also offering a trade-in program where buyers can get a discount when they turn in their old phone. The value of the trade-in will be based on the age and quality of your old phone, but it’s a way to save at least a few dollars of the cost of an iPhone 4.

WalMart The big box retailer WalMart will be selling the iPhone 4 on launch day, but so far the company hasn’t been able to offer any details on its pre-order program. In fact, WalMart has yet to confirm whether or not it’s even planning on accepting pre-orders.

What to Budget
Phone Cost The iPhone 4 will be available in a 16GB model for $199 and a 32GB model for $299, assuming you qualify for the fully subsidized price. Both will come in black or white versions.

Subscribers that are new to AT&T automatically qualify for the fully subsidized prices, and current customers that have a contract that expires in 2010 are eligible for the lowest price as well. Current AT&T customers that aren’t sure what they’ll pay can dial *639# on their iPhone to receive a text to see how much the new model will set them back.

Check out TMO’s Quick Tip on iPhone upgrade eligibility if you aren’t sure what to do.

Service Cost
Without a service plan, an iPhone is little more than an iPod touch with a built-in camera. Customers need to choose a 3G data plan, a voice plan, and whether or not they want a text message plan.

Data Plans AT&T customers that signed up for an iPhone plan before June 7 get unlimited 3G data access for a $30 a month flat fee, and if they upgrade to an iPhone 4, they can keep their unlimited data plan. New subscribers, however, can choose from a 200MB a month data plan for $15, or a 2GB a month plan for $25.

If you have an unlimited data plan and want to know whether or not switching to the new capped data plans is worth the cost savings to you, the AT&T Web site includes an option to show your usage after you log into your account. Check out TMO’s Quick Tip on checking data plan usage to see how.

Voice Plans AT&T offers three voice plans for iPhone users. The 450 minute a month plan costs $39.99, the 900 minute a month plan is priced at $59.99, and the unlimited call plan costs $69.99 a month. All three plans include “Rollover Minutes,” which means any unused talk minutes carry over can can be used in months where you exceed your monthly talk time cap.

Text Messaging AT&T doesn’t require subscribers to buy a text message, or SMS, plan. Without a messaging plan, individual text messages will cost you $0.20 each, and messages that include photos or video will set you back $0.30 each.

For iPhone owners that get more than the occasional text message, AT&T offers a 200 message per month plan for $5, a 1500 message per month plan for $15, and an unlimited message plan for $20 a month.

Family Plans If there’s more than one iPhone in your family, you may be taking advantage of one of AT&T’s Family Plan packages. If not, there’s a chance a Family Plan could save you some money.

Subscribers need to select a data and text message plan for each iPhone on their Family Plan, and choose a shared talk plan, too. Plans start at $59.99 for 550 shared talk minutes for two phones, and extra phones cost an additional $9.99 per month each. Like individual talk plans, family talk plans include Rollover minutes.

Family Plans also include a shared unlimited monthly text message option for $30, which can be a cash saver for families that text a lot.

Outside the United States, service contract prices vary depending on the country you’re in and the carrier that’s providing your service. Despite the differences, however, you’ll still be faced with choosing the right voice and data plan.