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Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 02:40 pm PT (05:40 pm ET)

Apple stores to open 8 a.m., AT&T stores 7 a.m. for iPhone 3G S

Apple has let fans know that its stores around the world will open up to two hours early to accommodate the iPhone 3G S' launch, while those eager to buy their phones at AT&T could receive theirs an hour earlier.

The iPhone maker has quietly clarified its launch plans and says that, whenever possible, Apple stores worldwide will open at 8 a.m. on June 19th in their respective time zones to help accommodate the initial rush of customers for the faster, video-capable device.

Apple's approach mirrors that it took for last year's iPhone 3G launch, when long lines formed outside of many stores hours before they opened and could potentially have interfered with other shoppers.

AT&T is also opening its doors at the same time in the US, but is offering an added incentive to early adopters. Those who pre-order an iPhone 3G S directly from one of its retail stores will have the option of walking into the store at 7 a.m and picking up theirs ahead of the general public; two queues will exist outside of each store until the wider 8 a.m. release. The cellular carrier cautions that this isn't a raincheck and that those who pre-order will have to be in line if they expect a new iPhone on launch day.

The Friday release is already expected to mark Apple's third iPhone release to be accompanied by a high-profile retail debut. Unlike last year, however, Apple and AT&T are expected to avoid the activation server outages that kept iPhone 3G customers waiting for hours, as buyers can pre-order the iPhone 3G S online and have it shipped in sync with the retail release.