No iPhone 4s available in Steamboat

Lack of AT&T dealers in Routt County means no walk-up sales

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■ Visit www.apple.com/iphone for more about the iPhone 4 or to order one directly from Apple

■ Visit www.mywirelessinc.com for more on MyWireless and its Verizon-enabled phones

— Today is the official release date for the much-hyped iPhone 4, but unless you pre-ordered one through Apple or AT&T, don’t expect to find the new smart phone at any local retailers.

Apple’s newest phone will be sold at national retailers Best Buy, Walmart and Radio Shack, in addition to Apple stores, on Apple’s website and in some AT&T retail outlets. But the Steamboat Springs Walmart is not expected to stock the iPhone 4, an employee in the store’s electronics department said Wednesday.

The local Walmart similarly has not carried previous models of the iPhone, and the unnamed employee said it has to do with AT&T not recognizing the Steamboat location as an authorized dealer.

The Mac Ranch, an Apple-authorized retailer in downtown Steamboat, also won’t carry the iPhone 4. An employee there gave a similar reason — because the Mac Ranch isn’t an authorized AT&T dealer, it can’t sell Apple’s smart phone.

AT&T is the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. cellular carrier. There are no authorized AT&T dealers in Routt County, according to AT&T’s website, even though the company began offering service through its Edge network here in spring 2008.

A Steamboat Springs Radio Shack employee said Wednesday that the store hopes to offer cellular phone sales, including AT&T and the iPhone, within the next month or so.

The new iPhone 4 is the fourth-generation iPhone from Apple. It was announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this month and was available for pre-order June 15. Apple reported that it sold 600,000 of the phones by pre-order June 15.

The new phone includes a larger camera with LED flash; the ability to shoot 720p video; a second, front-facing camera that can be used with its new FaceTime video call feature; a faster processor; additional RAM; and an upgraded operating system that allows for multitasking and other enhanced features.

Apple has faced increasing competition from other smart phone manufacturers and operating systems, notably Google’s Android operating system. A number of cell phone manufacturers are using the Android platform for their next-generation smart phones. Many think Apple and the iPhone also are hurt by AT&T’s exclusivity. AT&T gets poor scores from many users for spotty reception, inconsistent 3G performance and dropped calls.

MyWireless, the largest cell phone retailer in Steamboat Springs, is an authorized Ver­­izon Wireless dealer. Unlike AT&T, Verizon offers the faster 3G data service in Routt County.

On Wednesday, Josh Hold­­ridge, regional manager of four of MyWireless’ Northwest Colorado locations, said the company’s two Steamboat outlets have a number of new smart phones available for sale, several of which use the Android operating system. Those phones include the HTC Incredible, HTC Aria, the Motorola Droid and the LG Ally.

Steamboat Springs resident Evan Driscoll doesn’t mind the lack of AT&T 3G data service in the county. Driscoll, a Steamboat Springs Police Department officer, pre-ordered his iPhone 4 on June 15 and received it via FedEx on Wednesday. He previously owned the first-generation iPhone, as well as the follow-up iPhone 3G.

“I’m a big fan of Apple,” Driscoll said. “The iPhone does it all — text, e-mail, voice, music, photos. It’s very convenient.”

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