The iPhone is among the biggest hit consumer electronics and cell phone products of recent years and, as a result, everyone wants one. Given that, the question is not whether to buy, but where?
Sure, you can directly to the source and buy an iPhone from Apple’s online or bricks-and-mortar stores, but you have lots of other choices about where to buy your iPhone.
You can, of course, purchase an iPhone at any of Apple’s 180-plus retail stores across the United States, Canada, the UK, Japan, and Italy. Apple stores can activate your iPhone, though you can also do that either at an AT&T store or online through iTunes.
The Apple Store will be equipped to sell you an iPhone and activate the AT&T service that is required to use the iPhone.
With over 1,800 AT&T stores in the U.S., AT&T stores are more widely spread than Apple stores. These stores sell iPhones and activate them on site.
In 2008, Best Buy became the first major retailer besides Apple and AT&T to be authorized to sell the iPhone. Though you won’t find big discounts or sales here, Best Buy does occasionally run promotions that increase value and sells used iPhones at a discount. It does not sell the iPhone online, though, so you’ll need to visit its retail stores to buy an iPhone.
C Spire Wireless
This regional wireless carrier became the 4th phone company in the U.S. to offer the iPhone in fall 2011 (and the first of the small, regional players). The iPhone 4S is available through C Spire's stores in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama.
Longtime electronics retailer Radio Shack has moved heavily into cell phones in recent years. As part of that, the company offers the iPhone. At the launch of the iPhone 4, the company is offering an iPhone 3GS trade-in program that can net upgraders up to US$200.
Now that the U.S.'s third-largest mobile phone company is offering the iPhone 4S, you'll be able to buy that phone in its retail stores. Earlier iPhone models aren't sprint-compatible, though, so if you want the 3GS or 4 you'll need to go to one of the other stores on this list. Find your closest Sprint location.
The U.S.'s biggest cell phone company began selling the iPhone 4 at its retail stores on Feb. 10, 2011. The Verizon iPhone 4 is not the same as the one used on AT&T's network, since the two companies use different network technologies.
The world's largest retailer began selling the iPhone in 2009. In early 2010, it offered a deal on the iPhone 3GS that no one else has matched: US$97 for a 16GB iPhone 3GS with a two-year AT&T contract. With the introduction of the iPhone 4, though, the standard price of the 3GS fell to $99, making this a less unusual offering.
As with almost anything else you’re looking to buy, Craigslist and eBay can generally help you out. Buyer beware, though. Make sure you know what you’re buying, are buying from a highly rated dealer (on eBay, at least. Craigslist offers no ratings) and make smart purchases. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and make sure you’re buying a new unit (unless you’re looking for used), or you could end up out money and with a subpar phone.
Most of the websites that buy and sell used iPods also buy and sell used iPhones. Shop around on these sites for the lowest prices. And even though quality is generally very good here, remember that these phones will be used and sometimes without warranty. As always, you’ll need to activate through Apple or AT&T.