Apple's iPhone 4 leads to long line-ups

Shoppers in Canada are lining up to buy Apple's iPhone 4, which went on sale Friday.

Contract-free, unlocked version available

Shoppers in Canada are lining up to buy Apple's iPhone 4, which went on sale Friday.

Customers in Vancouver line up for the iPhone 4. Consumers who buy an unlocked, contract-free version will be able to shop around for the best cellphone plan. ((CBC))

In Toronto, hundreds of people lined up to be among the first in Canada to hold the new iPhone 4, with many camping overnight to get their gadget. In Vancouver, one enterprising individual was offering to sell his place in line on Craigslist for $100.

For the first time, consumers are able to buy an unlocked, contract free version, which means they'll have the ability to shop around the big service providers to find the best cellphone plan.

Service providers also released their pricing for the iPhone 4. Telus and Rogers are charging $159 for a 16 GB phone with a three-year contract and $649 for a phone with no contract. Bell is selling the iPhone 4 for $159.95 with a three-year contract, with no ability to go contract-free.

For the 32 GB model, Telus and Rogers are charging $269 with a three-year contract and $749 with no contract. Bell only offers the phone for $269.95 with a three-year contract.

"It ought to sell like hotcakes, if people know what they are doing. An unlocked plan is the way to go, " Shane Nelson, an Apple sales representative in Winnipeg, told CBC News. "If you are mad with your provider, then you can walk away."

Reception problem

The iPhone was launched in the U.S. last month, but customers complained that calls were being dropped when the phone was held a certain way. 

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about the iPhone 4 at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on July 16. ((Paul Sakuma/Associated Press))

Apple is giving away free rubber cases it says will improve reception when the iPhone is released in Canada and 17 other countries.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has downplayed the problem, saying it's a common issue with all smartphones.

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports magazine did not recommend the iPhone 4 because of the reception problems.

Analysts also said Apple created a public relations headache for itself by appearing initially to dismiss the issue.

RIM gearing up

It's rumoured Research in Motion (RIM) will challenge Apple's new iPhone next week, coming out with its own new smartdevice. It's expected to launch its BlackBerry 9800 and a system upgrade for the BlackBerry on Tuesday.

The BlackBerry 9800 will include a multi-touch screen and better browser, as well as a QWERTY keyboard for messaging.

"The new operating system includes many features that experts say rival the usability of its competition, the Android and iPhone devices," said Sidneyeve Matrix, a film and media professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., in a news release put out by the university, timed to coincide with the launch of the new smartphones. 

"The new BB6 will improve the user experience and make navigation more intuitive."

On Friday, RIM took the No. 4 spot in a ranking of the world's top mobile phone makers by the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. RIM shipped 11.2 million of its BlackBerrys in the second quarter, pushing it up one notch on the global ranking.

RIM first cracked IDC's top five list in April and had the highest growth rate in the latest quarterly ranking: 40 per cent.

Nokia, Samsung and LG Electronics continued to hold the top three spots while Sony Ericsson dropped a notch to No. 5. Apple didn't make IDC's top five with its iPhone.

With files from The Canadian Press