iPhone 4 Release Day - Chaos & Bliss

It's been a pretty crazy morning in Nashua, NH thanks to iPhone 4's release. Lucky for you, I took a ton of pictures and kept timestamped notes for the occasion. Aside from lining up about an hour early for the 3G's release, this is the first time I've lined up super early, even with the device already reserved. The Apple store in question is located in the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH. And here we go...
[04:28] Just arrived at the mall. There are about a dozen people milling around outside of the entrance by Target, with a similar number by the food court entrance. No one is line up by the door, presumably security has already yelled at them. I'm at the latter entrance, since it's both closer and on the same floor as the Apple store. Most of these people are fairly awkward looking; I'm totally one of them. It definitely doesn't help that I'm rocking an Apple tee. 
[04:39] Met the dude who got here first. He slipped into the mall as it closed the night before at 9PM and camped outside the Apple store. Mall security gave him the boot at 1:30AM, so he went and slept in his car. Fun fact: Apple pulls huge black curtains over the windows of their store while they redecorate for major launches like this.

#1 in line, since 9PM, sleeping at the door. What a champ. 

[04:46] We lined up anyway, 22 people deep. I already made the obligatory "we're waiting for the new Zune joke." Only I thought it was entertaining.

The super early crew.

[04:57] Mall security pulled up to the curb to break up the party, but someone talked him into letting us stay, provided we "stay under control and don't leave any trash." The line is a little loose still and folks continue to trickle in one at a time.

 Telling the security guard (in an extremely official vehicle) to stand down.

[05:28] There are 44 people here now, but this is more of a mass of people than a line.

There was really never any tangible line, just a crowd. Big mistake.

[05:42] Over 55 people here, still no defined line.
[06:20] My friend Andrea is at the Holyoke Mall in Mass waiting in line. Apple has things under control there and are giving out snacks (!!!). Starbucks was also there, taking orders and serving people in line. Man, could I have used some Starbucks.

Line at the Holyoke Mall (Thanks Andrea!)

[06:31] About 100 now, with reports of even more at the other entrance. Apparently the folks over there are much more orderly, forming a single file line. 
[06:46] Met an apple store employee from MA here to avoid the tax. He says customers with reservations versus those without will be served 10:1. The crowd is getting louder; a security guard appeared and people started freaking out. Since there's no real line here it's going to be a disaster.
[06:55] Someone started banging on the doors; the security guard is not impressed.

Getting antsy...

[06:58] In line in front of the Apple store now! Definitely one of the first 20 in line, which is now so massive I can't see the end of it. We just had to run to the store through the mall; it was complete chaos. The security guard opened a single door for over 100 crazed lunatics to pour through. If someone went down they would have been seriously injured. It was so cramped getting through the door it's amazing that no one got hurt. Once pushed, literally by the crowd, through the door everyone broke into a full sprint towards the apple store. I attempted to take a video of all of this, but apparently didn't have the strength to push the record button all the way.  Apple is handling the line very well, but the mall was completely clueless. There are two lines: One for people with reservations and one without. Several Apple employees are handing out snacks, and a police officer is getting people to form the lines. He told the folks without reservations that it was going to be at least 2 hours until they can expect the line to move. That's what you get for not pre-ordering.

This is the line behind me within 5 minutes of the mall doors opening. It just kept going on and on...

Checking folks with reservations in. 

[07:07] Apple employee says that there are 500-600 reservations at this particular store. 

Front of the reservations line baby.

Inside the store was very chill.

[07:30] iPhone 4 purchased, activated, and on my way home!

The entire transaction is performed with an iPhone in a credit card reading case. We also took a really geeky picture of me with my phone and iPad, while she got all cozy with my new phone. Not sure where the Apple photographer is going to post that...

Immediately after unboxing! (gasp)

In-store activation took about 5 seconds. The longest part was opening the box. 

From left to right: 4:30AM, 9:00PM (!!!), 6:30AM arrivals. All got their devices at the same time. Hah!

The way Apple handles things once you're at their store is fantastic. They pair each customer up one-on-one with a sales person that will do demos, show you the accessories, and force feed you the obligatory MobileMe and Apple Care pitches. It was very calm inside the store, and once inside everything went smoothly. It took about 15 minutes for them to get all my info into their credit-card-reading iPhone and complete the transaction ($299 for the phone, $9 for dock adapters), then they passed me off to another person at a laptop to activate the phone. I wasn't interested in having them transfer any of my info, so they just activated it.

First shot with iPhone 4. This is what the line looked like on my way out. Came out blurry, bah!

This device is truly beautiful; the screen is amazing, it's super fast, and feels really great to hold. I really can't get over how crisp text looks now. Someone just called, and the speaker is wicked loud; much louder than the 3GS, and it appears to be clearer. I'm writing this as it syncs the 2396 songs/videos, but it appears to have restored from my 3GS firmware image without a hitch. More on how I like this thing later, time to get to work.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be all about getting to the store super early ever again, especially since so many people got their phones in a day or two early. It's definitely exciting, everyone's really pumped up and in good spirits. If I ever do it again, I'm going all in and camping out the night before. If you're going to do it, do it right.

Mission accomplished. Well, until next year.

Updated 6/24/10: Fixed some grammar and formatting following my mad dash to write the post this morning.