It seems there's a lot of confusion about iPhone 3G upgrades and activation. Here's what is known at the moment to try to clarify the confusion. All of this applies to the U.S. and AT&T only.

The iPhone 3G is a subsidized mobile phone, which means that AT&T is paying ~$200 to discount the phone down to its final price. $199 for 8GB or $299 for 16GB. The reason AT&T is subsidizing the phone is because they expect to make more than $200 over the lifetime of a 2 year contract. For the iPhone 3G, the contract includes $30/month for 3G data, and at least $39/month for the low end voice contract.

If you currently own:1st Generation iPhone

If you bought it on or after May 27th, you are eligible to receive a free upgrade to the iPhone 3G when it launches. You will also get a refund for the difference in the price.

If you bought it before May 27th, you may buy a new iPhone for $199 (8GB) or $299 (16GB) but will have to sign a new two year contract starting on the day you buy the new iPhone. This cancels and replaces your existing AT&T iPhone contract.

AT&T Mobile Phone (not iPhone)

AT&T generally allows individuals to take advantage of a subsidized phone once every 2 years. A new memo clarifies this point. If you are an AT&T customer, you must either have completed a 24 month contract or meet these requirements to be able to purchase the iPhone 3G for $199/$299 prices:

#1. Customer has had a standard calling plan plus data services costing at least $68.99 a month but no more than $98.99 a month, and who has been in contract (and not had a phone upgrade) for 21 months or more,
or
#2. Customer has had a standard calling plan plus data services costing $99 a month or more, and who has been in contract (and not upgraded) in the last 12 months.
or
#3. A customer with a calling plan and data services of less than $69 who is 21 to 23 months into contract may upgrade for a fee and a commitment of an additional two-year service contract extension.

No upgrade fee is assessed for any customers who are on a month-to-month agreement.

If you are not eligible, AT&T expects to announce the higher unsubsidized iPhone 3G price in the future. This price can be expected to be about $200 higher.

Alternatively, you can cancel your existing mobile phone contract and pay the $175 early termination fee, you will probably then be eligible for the $199/$299 iPhone 3G.

Non AT&T Mobile Phone

If you are under contract with another mobile phone provider, you may be subject to an early termination fee if you cancel your contract prematurely. You will need to contact your provider for those details, but you will be able to get the iPhone 3G from AT&T at the $199/$299 prices. If you would like to transfer your current mobile phone number to the iPhone 3G, you should not cancel your current service. Instead, you should initiate the phone number transfer from AT&T when you buy the iPhone 3G.

What If...

What if I want to buy an iPhone 3G and not use it on AT&T?

There are a number of issues regarding this. First, the iPhone 3G firmware has not been unlocked, despite reports. The final iPhone 3G firmware is said to be different than the current 2.0 betas. So, you may not be able to unlock it at all.

If you are able to unlock it, you won't be able to use the iPhone 3G on any other carrier in the U.S. T-Mobile doesn't support the same 3G network that the iPhone uses. So while you might be able to make phone calls on T-Mobile, you won't be able to use 3G data.

If you must have an iPhone 3G outside of an AT&T contract, here are the steps. Buy an iPhone at $199/$299. Wait 30 days. Pay one month of service. Cancel your account. Pay $175 early termination fee. There, you have an iPhone 3G without AT&T contract. If you cancel your account before one month of service, you will have to return the iPhone to AT&T.

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Purple

Apple Planning to Hold iPhone 14 Event on September 7

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:51 am PDT by
Apple is aiming to hold its first fall event on Wednesday, September 7, reports Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The event will focus on the iPhone 14 models and the Apple Watch Series 8. The standard iPhone 14 models are expected to get few changes, but the iPhone 14 Pro models will include updated camera technology, the removal of the notch in favor of a pill-shaped and hole-punch cutout, an A16...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 With Bug Fixes

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:50 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 15.6.1, minor updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems initially released in September 2021. iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 come a month after Apple released iOS 15.6 and iPadOS 15.6 with new Live Sports features and bug fixes. The iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
Apple Watch Series 3 v 8 1

Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: 20 Major New Features and Changes for Customers Upgrading

Tuesday August 16, 2022 6:52 am PDT by
It's crazy to think about, but next month will mark five years since Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 3. Despite being a severely antiquated smartwatch, the Series 3 has remained at the bottom of Apple's lineup for $199. Suppose you're still holding on to your Apple Watch Series 3. In that case, this article will list all the major new features and changes you'll get if you decide to...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...