Another iPhone frenzy nears

Laurence Hardin said he isn’t crazy enough to spend the night in front of a San Francisco Apple Store to get the latest incarnation of the iPhone on Friday morning. Instead, he’ll just show up at 5 a.m. and hope the line isn’t too long.

“There are no ifs about it,” the 26-year-old video-game publicist said. “I’m lining up. I learned last time though that they should have enough stock to at least last through the morning.”

Many iPhone fanatics, such as Hardin, are trading in their first-generation phones — which have yet to hit the two-year-old mark — for the cheaper, faster 3G iPhone. Steve Jobs, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., unveiled the new gadget one month ago at the Worldwide Developers Conference at Moscone Center.

The new $199 3G iPhone, which will be sold in 22 countries, will feature 8 gigabytes of storage. When the iPhone was first introduced in 2007, he said, the 8-gigabyte version cost $599 — it now retails at $399.

The souped-up mobile computer — which serves as a phone, Internet browser, camera and music player — is half of the price of its first incarnation. It also features GPS satellite navigation and faster Internet service. Apple also is allowing third-party developers to build applications for the iPhone, a big plus for iPhone users milling about Union Square on Wednesday.

Brian Roberts, a professional yo-yo performer known as Doctor Popular, said he had to hack into his first-generation iPhone to download and develop games and other applications.

“I get all the applications for free right now,” he said. “It’s going to take some convincing for me to pay for them.”

Roberts said he isn’t going to buy the new phone unless he comes across a surplus of money. Not only would he have to buy another phone, but the AT&T service plan for the new phone also costs an extra $20 a month for the faster service.

Kim Mackin bought her iPhone a month and a half ago. At the time, nobody at the Apple Store told her to wait for the new version to come out.

“I’m a bit disappointed,” said Mackin, a 23-year-old fashion designer visiting San Francisco from Chicago. “I wish you could go in and trade it for a new one, but I’m not one to make a fuss.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Mixed reviews

The iPhone has received mixed reviews from three newspapers that tested it.

New York Times

Thumbs up: “Crystal clear” audio

Thumbs down: Extra service costs, dearth of third-generation network coverage in some states

Would buy? No

Wall Street Journal

Thumbs up: Audio quality, download speed

Thumbs down: Extra service costs

Would buy? Maybe

USA Today

Thumbs up: Audio quality, download speed

Thumbs down: Extra service costs

Would buy? Yes

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