Cold Doesn't Stop Verizon iPhone Buyers

Lines were tame this morning at Verizon on Michigan Avenue

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    Hannah Chanpong

    Ray Akpan can hear you now.

    Akpan was the 36th person to receive a new iPhone 4 at the Verizon Wireless store on Michigan Avenue Thursday. Akpan, a "faithful" Verizon customer, said he's wanted an iPhone for years.

    "I knew the day would come," he said.

    The new phone went on sale at 7 a.m. at Verizon and Apple stores across the city. Verizon is the first network to carry iPhone service besides AT&T, which has been criticized for dropped calls.

    Some customers waited for more than an hour in single-degree temperatures Thursday morning outside the Verizon store at 500 N. Michigan Ave. Assisant store manager Tonisa James said the bravest ones started the line around 5:30 a.m.

    Compared to hundreds lining up for past Apple products, the wait to get this phone didn't last long. By about 8:15 a.m., James said 46 people had bought the iPhone.

    Jay Walusek, who arrived just a few minutes before the store opened, waited outside for about 20 minutes. Walusek is an AT&T customer who is switching to Verizon.

    "AT&T works great in the suburbs," he said, "but I live and work downtown."

    Akpan, who also lives in the city, got to the store at 7:30 a.m. He didn't expect a line, he said, because of the cold weather.

    James said many customers pre-ordered iPhones, which might have kept the crowd to a minimum. She predicts 100 people will buy the iPhone at her location today.

    The next rush is expected around lunchtime, she said.