What to Do if Things Go Wrong
Let's say you walk out of the Apple Store with an un-activated iPhone 3G--what do you do next? Here's what worked for me.
When I got home, I did a last sync of my old iPhone, then connected the new iPhone to iTunes. After 30 seconds or so of the same result from the Apple Store, it led me through the activation process. I put in my Apple ID, confirmed the registration information it already knew, and picked to restore the new iPhone from a backup of the previous one.
After a lengthy restore process (and even lengthier process of copying all my media files over) my phone was up and running. As part of the restore, I lost saved passwords for e-mail, Wi-Fi, and others. The AIM app I'd installed on my original iPhone with updated 2.0 software deleted itself for no good reason that I could tell. And even though iTunes copied my contacts, calendars, and bookmarks over to the new phone, it didn't have anything checked in the Info pane when connected to the iPhone 3G, so I had to reselect which items I wanted to sync. Then I overwrote the phone with my desktop data just to make sure I was starting with a clean set of information. But otherwise, all my other apps and settings came over pretty cleanly.
So now I have a working iPhone 3G-and an old iPhone which, as my colleague Dan Moren points out, is essentially an iPod touch. In other words, it has the playback and Web browsing and Mail (over Wi-Fi) features of an iPhone but not the calling capabilities. And someone who wants an iPhone, but doesn't care about GPS or 3G, can activate it as phone to live another life.
Art Director Rob Schultz contributed to this article.
[Jonathan Seff is Macworld's senior news editor and looking forward to a weekend where he isn't standing in line anywhere.]