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Friday, July 11, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

High-quality photos of Apple's iPhone 3G

Apple's new iPhone 3G went on sale at 8:00 a.m. sharp Friday on the East Coast. We picked up a couple of black 16GB models, activated them in the store, then came back to the office to prepare the following high-quality unboxing and comparison photos.

Everyone who buys one of the new handsets from an Apple retail store will get a snazzy white bag (below) to tote them home in. It's nearly identical to the black bag that accompanied first-generation iPhone sales last year.

Also similar is the iPhone 3G's retail packaging, which could be mistaken for the original iPhone's box if it weren't for the "3G" on the sides and the photo of the handset's home screen on the front featuring the App Store icon.

There are some slight differences once you pop off the top of the box, however. Immediately you'll find the new iPhone nestled in a carton made of recyclable material. Directly underneath the carton is a polishing cloth (no longer imprinted with "iPhone"), two Apple logo stickers and two pamphlets — "Finger Tips" and an iPhone 3G "Information Guide."

Removing the pamphlets from the box then reveals three accessories: a set of earphones (no fuzzy covers), a USB charging cable, and a USB power adapter that has seen a hefty size reduction compared to the one that shipped with the original iPhone. What you won't find is an iPhone 3G Dock, which is now sold separately for $29.99.

Apple Retail stores have the iPhone 3G Dock in stock, which is unusual when compared to recent iPhone and iPod launches, where official Apple accessories have lagged days and often weeks behind in availability compared to the devices themselves.

Still, as previous owners of an Apple Bluetooth Headset, we found it a bit disappointing that Apple is not (yet?) offering a standalone version of its Dual Dock capable of charging the headset and the iPhone 3G simultaneously. It's unclear whether newly manufactured versions of the Bluetooth Headset will include a revised Dual Dock to serve this purpose.

Stay tuned, as we'll soon be publishing a set of notes from our activation experiences at Apple's retail stores this morning.

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