IPhone 4 phones flew out the door Thursday, selling out within hours at some Apple store locations from Tokyo to San Francisco, as long lines snaked around street corners and die-hard fans dined on donuts and water passed out by Apple (AAPL) store staff. Sales remained brisk through the day, despite emerging reports of defective displays and reception complaints.
Customers bringing home their shiny new smartphone with its highly touted pixel-packed Retina display are lodging complaints on Apple's forum boards, reporting yellow blotches on the sleek screen. Apple's support technicians are reportedly attributing it to a manufacturing problem.
Yellow Blobs Mar Some Screens
On the forum boards, a nature photographer, among others, complained of a "yellowish blob in the top left corner of the screen" that was noticeable when using his iPhone 4 to show off his work. Still, he said that "Other than the discoloration, the screen is quite nice. The extra detail from the higher resolution is fantastic when viewing web pages, and photos look very crisp and sharp."
As to poor reception, customers are reporting that when holding the device in a particular area of the phone, reception dramatically drops. Attendees at Apple's recent Worldwide Developers Conference may remember that CEO Steve Jobs boasted that the iPhone 4 has its antennas embedded into the metal band that surround the device.
One customer with an observant eye, who goes by Erycstrife on his YouTube video, apparently discovered the precise location on the problem and offered up a solution that calls for using a protective iPhone case.
Despite these reports and Apple's own acknowledgment that its white iPhones won't be available until the second half of July due to manufacturing problems, prospective iPhone 4 buyers gathered along streets fronting Apple stores.
At San Francisco's Union Square store, as at other Apple stores across the nation, two orderly lines were formed on the sidewalk: one for those who pre-ordered their phones earlier this month, and one for those hoping to purchase a phone despite not reserving one.
Wedding Gift: Reserving a Spot in Line
Dale Larson, a San Francisco entreprenuer, had pre-ordered his phone but faced the dilemma of potentially missing his spot at the front of the line because he was going to be coming home from his honeymoon on the eve of the launch. But a good friend, Erin Robbins, volunteered to ensure his spot in line, as a wedding gift, organizing a Plancast event that called on friends and friends of friends to take turns saving Larson's spot in line.
Robbins says she was able to round up a couple of friends to rotate in an out, but it was largely her around the clock.
"I didn't want him thinking about his iPhone on their honeymoon, and his wife asked me to see if I could please help her out and make sure he didn't cut it short," Robbins joked.
Larson said he and his bride were vacationing in Belize, flew home to San Francisco at midnight Wednesday and rushed directly over to the Apple store to join Robbins in line. And when the doors opened, Larson was the first to cross the threshold to snag his new iPhone 4.
Major Technology Upgrade
Joe Sabia, a San Francisco resident who works in sales and marketing, was the first in line for those who were purchasing their phones without a reservation. For Sabia, it was a leap over generations of smartphone technology from his five-year-old LG cellphone that offered no camera, could hold roughly 50 text messages and cost just under $30 when he bought it.
"I'm going from a horse and buggy to a Maserati," Sabia says. "Eventually, I have to catch up with the times."
Sabia spent $400 to score the first spot in line, purchasing it from another San Francisco resident, Chris Bank. Sabia made his purchase Wednesday night and promptly headed over to the store, where he managed to get one hour of sleep while camping out in line.