Apple store vs. AT&T store for buying a new iphone

starryeyedkat

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 2, 2008
11
0
Connecticut, USA
I'm getting an iphone today or Thursday (tomorrow is supposed to be a huge snowstorm) and I don't know where to buy it. I stopped by the mall yesterday and asked the guy at the att store and the girl at the apple store where to buy it and they both said their store. (guess I should have seen that coming!)

Anyway, my question is, where would be best to buy an iphone 3gs with mobile me and applecare? Should I go to the apple store to buy it, then go to att to get it hooked up, or do it all through att?
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
Wherever you buy it from should activate the phone for you (before you leave the store).

It's been my experience that the Apple Store has more of a variety of cases and accessories, so if you're looking to buy one at the same time, you might consider the Apple Store.

If you have some screwy situation going on with your AT&T account, you might want to head to an AT&T store. The Apple Store can sell you (and activate) an iPhone, but they don't have direct access to your AT&T account (if you have one), so if there is something weird with it, they'll end up on the phone having to talk to AT&T. If you know in advance that's likely to happen to you, you might consider going to the AT&T store.

Other than that, the iPhone price is the same at either store.

Both should carry AppleCare and MobileMe. Apple should offer you a $30 discount on MobileMe if you buy it with your iPhone. Not sure if AT&T honors that discount.
 

tritonj

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2008
704
0
i believe you are charged tax on the full retail price at an Apple store but at ATT you are charged tax on the subsidized price, at least that is what i remember hearing
 

cdinca

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2007
365
0
Buy from Apple store!

I bought my wife her original iPhone from an AT&T store. Day 2 we realized vibrate did not work. Took it in to AT&T and they said, all they could do is send me to the Apple store to have a genius look at it. AT&T would not take it back unless I canceled the iphone account. They would not do an exchange.

I took it to apple, and they said, "yes it is broken...here is a refurb." At that time refurbs were going for $100 less than new ones, so this made me grumpy. Apple informed me that if I had bought from them I could have received a brand new one for up to 14 days after purchase for any reason I wanted. I would basically just be returning it and buying a new one with their 14 day "any reason" return policy. AT&T does not have this.

The refurb was fine, it was just knowing that I could have saved $100 and ended up with the exact same phone 2 days after purchase, that bummed me out.
 

lionheartednyhc

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2009
1,024
3
I bought my wife her original iPhone from an AT&T store. Day 2 we realized vibrate did not work. Took it in to AT&T and they said, all they could do is send me to the Apple store to have a genius look at it. AT&T would not take it back unless I canceled the iphone account. They would not do an exchange.

I took it to apple, and they said, "yes it is broken...here is a refurb." At that time refurbs were going for $100 less than new ones, so this made me grumpy. Apple informed me that if I had bought from them I could have received a brand new one for up to 14 days after purchase for any reason I wanted. I would basically just be returning it and buying a new one with their 14 day "any reason" return policy. AT&T does not have this.

The refurb was fine, it was just knowing that I could have saved $100 and ended up with the exact same phone 2 days after purchase, that bummed me out.
THIS is why you want to buy it from Apple. If you get it, and it stops working within the first 30 days you will get a NEW one.

/thread.
 

lionheartednyhc

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2009
1,024
3
i believe you are charged tax on the full retail price at an Apple store but at ATT you are charged tax on the subsidized price, at least that is what i remember hearing
Believe it or not, tax is mandated by the government and not the retailer.
 

Cartoonkid

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2009
343
178
Sunny So Cal
i believe you are charged tax on the full retail price at an Apple store but at ATT you are charged tax on the subsidized price, at least that is what i remember hearing
Depends on the state in which you make the purchase. CA charges sales tax on the unsubsidized (full) price, regardless of whether you buy it at AT&T or Apple.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
The refurb was fine, it was just knowing that I could have saved $100 and ended up with the exact same phone 2 days after purchase, that bummed me out.
When Apple refurbs an iPhone, it puts it in a new exterior shell, throws in a new battery, resets the device with the latest firmware, and wraps the device in that plastic stuff you have to pull off. You shouldn't be able to look at an Apple refurb and visibly tell it's refurbed. Apple doesn't sell its refurbed iPhones; they're only available as Genius Bar/AppleCare swaps.

When AT&T refurbs an iPhone (that was returned in working condition from another customer), it takes basically just repackages what what the customer brought back. No new exterior shell, no new battery. If the original customer scratched/dinged the iPhone before they returned it, you're going to get it scratched and dinged. I've seen threads on here where the AT&T refurb arrived with tons of fingerprints all over it, and at least one case, with the prior owners info still on it! :eek:

Like you, I'll still recommend buying new at Apple (for the ability to get a new iPhone if yours dies within the first 14 days), but I think that the refurbed phone you got via the Genius Bar was a safer bet than buying a refurb from AT&T (for $100 less!)
 

cdinca

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2007
365
0
When Apple refurbs an iPhone, it puts it in a new exterior shell, throws in a new battery, resets the device with the latest firmware, and wraps the device in that plastic stuff you have to pull off. You shouldn't be able to look at an Apple refurb and visibly tell it's refurbed. Apple doesn't sell its refurbed iPhones; they're only available as Genius Bar/AppleCare swaps.

When AT&T refurbs an iPhone (that was returned in working condition from another customer), it takes basically just repackages what what the customer brought back. No new exterior shell, no new battery. If the original customer scratched/dinged the iPhone before they returned it, you're going to get it scratched and dinged. I've seen threads on here where the AT&T refurb arrived with tons of fingerprints all over it, and at least one case, with the prior owners info still on it! :eek:

Like you, I'll still recommend buying new at Apple (for the ability to get a new iPhone if yours dies within the first 14 days), but I think that the refurbed phone you got via the Genius Bar was a safer bet than buying a refurb from AT&T (for $100 less!)
It was actually when the Apple Store online started selling refurbs for $100 less.
 

starryeyedkat

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 2, 2008
11
0
Connecticut, USA
Hm, thank you all for the advice.

Something I probably should have mentioned in my original post- I have verizon, I am switching to at&t. That means if I do get the iphone at apple, I def have to go to att to get it activated, right?

Am I understanding this: if I buy my iphone at at&t, apple won't give me a new one if it breaks? That alone would be worth the hassle of buying at apple, then going to ATT.
 

mstrze

macrumors 68000
Nov 6, 2009
1,916
0
I bought my wife her original iPhone from an AT&T store. Day 2 we realized vibrate did not work. Took it in to AT&T and they said, all they could do is send me to the Apple store to have a genius look at it. AT&T would not take it back unless I canceled the iphone account. They would not do an exchange.

I took it to apple, and they said, "yes it is broken...here is a refurb." At that time refurbs were going for $100 less than new ones, so this made me grumpy. Apple informed me that if I had bought from them I could have received a brand new one for up to 14 days after purchase for any reason I wanted. I would basically just be returning it and buying a new one with their 14 day "any reason" return policy. AT&T does not have this.

The refurb was fine, it was just knowing that I could have saved $100 and ended up with the exact same phone 2 days after purchase, that bummed me out.
Odd, because I got my 3G iPhone through an AT&T store, after almost a full year, I had issues with the bottom portion of the touchscreen not responding to touch. Made an appointment at the Apple store Genius Bar and received a brand new phone that day for no charge. :D

So, I personally, see no issue no matter where you buy...unless I am somehow blessed. I know for a fact I did NOT buy AppleCare...never have. I'm one of those guys who always forgoes the extended warranty stuff...hasn't let me down yet (crosses fingers).
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
Something I probably should have mentioned in my original post- I have verizon, I am switching to at&t. That means if I do get the iphone at apple, I def have to go to att to get it activated, right?
Nope, any place that sells iPhones can (and is supposed to) activate it for you, before you leave. The Apple Store can create a new AT&T account for you, and port over your Verizon telephone number if you want.

If you decide to buy at the Apple Store, you can actually do a lot of the "paperwork" online, before you get to the store. (Actually, if you don't do this part online before you go to the Apple Store, they'll generally put you in front of an iMac at the Apple Store and have you do it there, and then sell you the phone). Either way, you'll need to know your Verizon account number, if you want to port your Verizon phone number over. :)

http://www.apple.com/iphone/buy
 

jdusoccer12

macrumors regular
Aug 3, 2008
153
24
Hm, thank you all for the advice.

Something I probably should have mentioned in my original post- I have verizon, I am switching to at&t. That means if I do get the iphone at apple, I def have to go to att to get it activated, right?

Am I understanding this: if I buy my iphone at at&t, apple won't give me a new one if it breaks? That alone would be worth the hassle of buying at apple, then going to ATT.
No Apple will activate it for you, you won't have to go to the AT&T store at all. Apple will do everything for you.
 

lionheartednyhc

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2009
1,024
3
Hm, thank you all for the advice.

Something I probably should have mentioned in my original post- I have verizon, I am switching to at&t. That means if I do get the iphone at apple, I def have to go to att to get it activated, right?

Am I understanding this: if I buy my iphone at at&t, apple won't give me a new one if it breaks? That alone would be worth the hassle of buying at apple, then going to ATT.
No, Apple can do it. Easiest way is to fill out this form online... Then go to the store and it will be super easy.

https://buyiphone.apple.com/WebObjects/IPACustomer.woa/
 

dfeigenbaum1

macrumors member
Jan 27, 2010
30
1
I have only received refurbs from apple store, my original 3gs stopped seeing who was calling, got a refurb, that phone worked for a month and did the exact same thing, got another refurb, that lasted about 5 or 6 weeks, mms stopped working unless you attached a pic with it, apple genius said that i had to go to setting and change, I stopped him right there and said, i did not buy a used car, and i did not want to hear his work around, i demanded a new phone and got another refurb, which on the very same day bricked. I called apple and i do have apple care told them about my experience, went back to the store and got a new phone not a refurb, with a box charger the works, so with all that said, apple needs to do a much better job. I hope that i never need a replacement again!!! I do not know how ATT handles these type of problems
 

joebobthehob

macrumors member
Jan 27, 2010
72
0
If you have some screwy situation going on with your AT&T account, you might want to head to an AT&T store. The Apple Store can sell you (and activate) an iPhone, but they don't have direct access to your AT&T account (if you have one), so if there is something weird with it, they'll end up on the phone having to talk to AT&T. If you know in advance that's likely to happen to you, you might consider going to the AT&T store.
Truly "screwy situations" are usually best handled by just calling 611. While AT&T stores have more access than your average retailer, they don't have anything close to full access to the account and very limited training in dealing with things other than sales and device support. So it's quite likely that you'll just end up standing there while they call customer care.
 

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,546
1,898
long island NY
i have bought from both. apple does a horrible job setting it up with the activation. they took more than an hour, i got charged extra, and i got a number from a different area code. then when i went to get the 3gs from them they didnt know how to get the subsidized price. so i just went with att. the only thing was that the att guy tried to lie to me.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
when i went to get the 3gs from them they didnt know how to get the subsidized price. so i just went with att.
Yeah, Apple has zero control over the subsidized price.

During the purchase process, they send your telephone number, billing zip code, and last four of your SSN over to AT&T, and AT&T returns the price that you are eligible to buy the iPhone for. Nobody in the Apple Store can override the price that AT&T comes back with.
 

Oman

macrumors regular
Jun 23, 2008
180
10
I would go to Best Buy myself, I like their warranty. I have it on my son iPhone and they have taken care multiple issues he have caused and they give you a loaner phone if they have to send it out for repair. Apple is good for the first year, but they do not cover some of the issues that BestBuy warranty cover.
 

terraphantm

macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2009
3,678
507
Pennsylvania
When my friend bought an iPhone from the AT&T store around late november, he got a 3.0.1 iPhone w/ the old bootrom so it was jailbreakable and unlockable fwiw