Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

iPhone 5: The wait is over

The first customers to purchase their new iPhone 5s exit an Apple store in Sydney, Australia.
The first customers to purchase their new iPhone 5s exit an Apple store in Sydney, Australia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: iPhone 5 goes on sale in the United States
  • "It's almost like a festival," one customer in Tokyo says
  • It's the newest version of iPhone line that has sold 244 million units since 2006
  • Apple retails stores opened their doors at 8 a.m. Friday

(CNN) -- The most diehard fans of Apple's iconic iPhone were completing what's become an annual rite of passage on Friday as lines that snaked for blocks in some cases began filing into Apple retails stores to be the first to get an iPhone 5.

Kelson Horton, 39, had been in line at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta since 5 p.m. Thursday.

The truck driver from Jonesboro, Georgia, said he's done so for every iteration of the smartphone that Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced to the world in 2006.

"I've been doing it since Day One," Horton said. "It's the experience more than anything. It just happens to be the hottest phone on the market."

Near the front of a line of about 200 people Friday morning, Horton said he got about an hour's worth of sleep while meeting new friends from what he called "the iPhone family."

iPhone frenzy returns
Conan's waiting for the iPhone 5
Assessing Apple's new iPhone
Evolution of the iPhone

At 8 a.m., thousands who spent hours waiting in line were greeted with cheers as Apple stores and other retailers began selling the new iPhone 5.

Those U.S. fans (or "fanboys" and "fangirls" as they're called by less-supportive tech enthusiasts) weren't the first though.

Throngs of shoppers lined up outside Apple stores in Sydney, Australia; Tokyo; London; Paris; and Munich, Germany, among other cities where the phone went on sale hours ago. Dozens had been waiting outside Apple's flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue since Monday.

Despite morning rainfall in Tokyo, hundreds of eager customers lined up outside an Apple store in the city's Ginza shopping district. Store employees handed out umbrellas to waiting customers, some of whom came sporting face paint to celebrate the occasion.

"It's almost like a festival, people just camping in the center of Ginza, just drinking and playing and talking to each other," said Taiyo Nakashima, a 34-year-old Web designer. "It's not really just buying the phone; it's just enjoying the party, really."

In Sydney, customers camped out in tents and folding chairs. Cheers erupted when the store's doors opened.

Todd Foot told CNN affiliate Network Ten that he waited for more than 70 hours to get Australia's first iPhone and review it online.

Announced September 12, the iPhone 5 features a bigger screen, lighter and slimmer frame, faster processor and, for the first time, 4G LTE wireless connections.

If a handful of tech writers were unimpressed with the specs, that didn't translate into lack of consumer interest.

Apple took 2 million pre-orders for the phone in the first 24 hours they were available last week, and some analysts said they think it could sell more than 10 million by Monday.

That first-day total was double the number of iPhone 4S pre-orders the company took last year, and an initial Friday shipping date was quickly pushed back. People who pre-order the phone now, or did so in the past few days, could be waiting more than three weeks for their phones to ship.

The phone will roll out to 22 more countries on September 28.

Gallery: The world's hottest smartphones

The most popular single smartphone since the existence of such a device, the iPhone has sold more than 244 million units around the world since its unveiling six years ago.

According to research firm IDC, the iPhone and its iOS operating system make up 16.9% of the worldwide smartphone market, coming in behind the cluster of phones running the Android operating system, which account for 68.1% of the world's smartphones.

The iPhone 5 is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the current version, the iPhone 4S. It has a 4-inch screen, measured diagonally, compared with a 3.5-inch screen on previous versions of the phone. It is the same width as the iPhone 4S but taller, and the iPhone 5 is made entirely of glass and aluminum.

It has had a few problems as tech innovations sometimes tend to do.

Most notably, an update to Apple's mobile operating system left the phone's map, which replaces Google Maps as the phone's default travel tool, a spotty mess with lots of locations missing.

Not surprisingly, those waiting in line Friday weren't deterred.

"I think a lot of people are wanting the world from a product they've just released," said Justin Henderson, 32, a composer from Atlanta who had been in line since 3 a.m. "You've got to be patient with Apple, and they'll get it right.

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Alex Zolbert contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:47 AM EDT, Mon October 8, 2012
In the past 10 years we've seen cell phones transform into electronic Swiss army knives with a wild variety of functions and features.
updated 8:03 AM EDT, Tue October 9, 2012
If you're like Derek Smith, you spend a lot of time on your smartphone. Then again, maybe nobody is quite like Derek Smith.
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Sat October 6, 2012
I am part of a dying breed. I am among a quickly shrinking slice of Americans who have yet to step foot in smartphone land.
updated 6:24 PM EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
If you're looking for a harbinger of the zombie apocalypse, look no further than all those people on the street pecking at their tiny, handheld windows into a private world.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Tue October 2, 2012
There are many ways to lose or ruin your smartphone. Forgetfulness, crime, gravity, anger, intoxication, acts of God.
updated 5:55 AM EDT, Fri September 28, 2012
A Sumo wrestler talks on a mobile phone
It is a device that three quarters of the world's inhabitants have access to, but the words to describe it and etiquette of how to use it differ starkly across cultures.
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Thu September 27, 2012
While about a quarter of adults in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness, most of them are not getting adequate treatment, if any.
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Wed September 26, 2012
There are millions of cell phone users in the United States. But one day last week, there was one less. Here's how comedian Dean Obeidallah survived it.
updated 4:20 PM EDT, Wed September 26, 2012
In a world where people are glued to their smartphones every minute of the day, what happened to observing the people and places around us? And what is it doing to our brains?
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
Physical therapists have a diagnosis for the headaches, neck cricks and achy shoulders affecting smartphone users, gamers and e-mailers. They call it "Text Neck."
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
Works of art photography aren't just for people with DSLR or film cameras anymore. Smartphones are helping create incredible art.
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
What if you found yourself stuck alone at a faraway airport -- with no money, credit cards or ID? Never fear, all you need is your phone.
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
China is on the verge of a smartphone revolution. For migrant populations, such technology has served to liberate workers, restructuring their social identity.
updated 2:02 PM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012
africa mobile phone boys
A little over a decade ago there were about 100,000 phone lines in Nigeria, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms behemoth, NITEL. Today NITEL is dead, and Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012
How does sleeping with your smartphone inches from reach affect your life? You might be surprised.
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Mon September 10, 2012
They've helped ignite the Arab Spring and given people better access to education and health care. How smartphones are changing the world.
updated 4:21 PM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
From the Samsung Galaxy S III to the next iPhone, here's a look at some of the most popular new handsets.
Many parents complain that cellphones, computers and tablets are dividing families. But some experts disagree.
updated 10:26 AM EDT, Mon September 10, 2012
Ten years ago, I helped work on the next great revolution in digital media. It was going to be wireless. Only most people didn't know it then.
ADVERTISEMENT