In a now familiar ritual, Apple fans jammed shops around the world today, starting in Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone.
Eager buyers formed long lines at Apple Inc. stores in Australia and Japan to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone. In Hong Kong and Singapore, buyers had to sign up online for the chance to pick up the device at a prearranged time. The first customers in Hong Kong were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.
The smartphone is also being launched in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Germany. It will go on sale in 22 more countries a week later. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.
Order numbers indicate the iPhone 5 has overcome initial lukewarm reviews. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.
In a sign of the intense demand, police in Osaka, Japan, were investigating the theft of nearly 200 iPhones 5s, including 116 from one shop alone, Kyodo News reported.
Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.
Some Australian fans went to extremes to be among the first by arriving at Apple's flagship store in downtown Sydney on Tuesday — three days ahead of the release.
Todd Foot, 24, nabbed the coveted first spot and spent about 18 hours a day in a folding chair and catching a few hours' sleep each night in a tent on the sidewalk.