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Apple channels Henry Ford: Preorder any iPhone 4, as long as it's black

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Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

(Read caption) Apple kicked off the iPhone preorder Tuesday for the new Apple iPhone 4 (shown here during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7 in San Francisco). But the company announced that the white iPhone 4 would not be available by the official June 24 launch.

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Stealing a page from Henry Ford, Apple kicked off its iPhone preorder Tuesday by telling customers they could order any color iPhone 4 they wanted, as long as it was black.

The much anticipated white iPhone won't be available for pickup or delivery on Thursday, June 24, as the black iPhone will be, Apple announced.

Apple is allowing customers to reserve a new iPhone 4 online at apple.com or att.com. But the preorder period got off to a rocky start, with reports that the Apple store went down early in the morning, presumably because of the influx of traffic as people logging on to place orders. There was also some grumbling in the blogosphere because the white iPhone 4 isn't available for preorder.

The iPhone 4 comes with a hefty price tag. The phone will set you back either $199 or $299, before taxes, depending on whether you opt for the 16 gigabyte or 32 gigabyte version, respectively.

That does not include the AT&T service plan that comes with the phone, which runs $55 a month for the most basic data and talk plan. AT&T’s cheapest data plan is also its most restrictive at 200 megabytes allowing users to send and receive about 1,000 emails (and 150 emails with attachments) each month. [Editor's note: This sentence was changed to accurately describe the data plan.]

The DataPro plan, which provides 2 GB of data, enough to send or receive 10,000 emails each month, costs $10 more, putting the monthly bill at $65 with the most basic talk plan. When you add the $5 text messaging charge, it bumps up to $70. And, don't forget, with the 16GB model, a two-year contract is required.

That’s quite an investment for a smart phone. But the iPhone 4’s new features – which include a front-facing camera, HD video recording and editing capability, and a gyroscope for improved motion control – may make the higher cost worth it for the iPhone's many fans.

So how does the iPhone 4’s cost compare to other smart phones on the market? Pretty well, actually – at least for the 16GB version.

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  • Google’s Nexus One smart phone is one of the best deals on the market. The phone costs $179 with an $80 per month unlimited T-Mobile data plan.
  • The EVO 4G Sprint smart phone is priced at $199, the same as the 16 GB iPhone 4, and also requires a two-year contract with a monthly payment of $80.
  • The Droid Incredible, which runs on Verizon’s 3G network, also costs $199 with a two-year contract, which comes with $70 monthly payments.

Some consumers might consider the $299 32GB iPhone 4 too pricey, but that's a testament to the way mobile phone prices have fallen. The first iPhone, launched in 2007, had only 8GB of memory and cost $500.

The first mobile phone in the US market, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x launched in 1984, weighed nearly two pounds and, at a height of 10 inches (not including its flexible whip antenna), stretched the definition of portability. Its cost: $3,995.

Now, THAT was Henry Ford technology.


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