Apple have launched an online iPhone 3G purchase system that promises to shave a little time off of picking up a new handset. While you're unable to fully order an iPhone 3G and have it delivered, what the system does let you do is enter your details, select your plan and basically complete all the dull paperwork, before dropping in to your nearest Apple store to physically collect the cellphone.
The system can handle totally new individual iPhone 3G purchases, new accounts for multiple handsets on individual or FamilyTalk plans, or adding an iPhone 3G to an existing account. This can replace a current cellphone or be an extra line. You can also port over your current cellphone number, if you so wish.
Once everything is filled in online, you can select a specific store and go in to pick up the iPhone 3G and have it activated. Apple no longer sells unactivated handsets, ostensibly to manage the purchase process and give its customer service reps the chance to explain features and set-up the buyer's new toy, but also because of the number of iPhones that were unlocked and used on networks other than those with exclusive agreements with the company.