People queued for days – some from as early as Monday – to get their hands on the iPhone 5S and its cheaper sister phone, the iPhone 5C.
The 5S, which comes in gold, silver or “space” grey was expected to fly off the shelves, and early signs suggested it was more popular than the more colourful 5C, which comes in five colours – pink, blue, yellow, green and white.
One survey of shoppers awaiting the release of the models found 93 per cent were waiting for the 5S version, which features a fingerprint sensor for security, rather than the traditional pin code. The prospective customers also said the iPhone 5C was not good value for money, at just £80 cheaper than the 5S.
One Scot, Richard Docherty, queued for more than ten hours yesterday to get the new model for his 20-year-old son Ryan – who was more than 5,000 miles away in China where the phone is assembled.
Mr Docherty, 54, from Crookston, Glasgow, was at the head of a queue of more than 300 people waiting for the Apple Store at the Braehead shopping mall to open at 8am.
He was joined by his other son, Scott, 22, and his son’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Jodie Nicol, who were buying the new iPhone for themselves.
Mr Docherty said: “Time went by pretty quick as I was chatting to people in the queue and talking to Ryan on Facetime. I volunteered to queue up to get a new iPhone for Ryan because we reckoned it would be pandemonium in China trying to get a hold of the new phone there.”
And it was not just younger people going to great lengths to get their hands on the devices.
Grandmother Eva Marzella, 76, from Paisley, had also queued at the mall from 5:30am along with her son Gary, who runs his own mobile phone sales company. “I just came along to keep Gary company and get a couple of new iPhones for my granddaughters,” she said.
There were queues at Apple stores around the UK, including Regent Street in London, where some diehard tech junkies arrived as early as 6pm on Monday.
Almost 3,000 people were there by the time doors opened at 8am yesterday, with people even travelling from India, Oman, Norway and Latvia.
Gad Harari, 17, set up a makeshift tent for the wait and, on Tuesday, claimed he had already been offered £200 to give up his place at the front of the queue.
Mr Harari, from Hendon in north London, said he was drawn to the 5S for its “Touch ID” feature. “I think it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s cool, it’s new, it’s sci-fi.”
Gavin Thomas, deputy editor of British-based iCreate magazine, said anticipation surrounding Apple releases had snowballed in recent years.
“Apple have got a good, reliable brand,” he said. “An Apple product launch is always an exciting time, and today was no exception. There was a lot of talk about the ‘budget iPhone’ this time around, too.”
In Britain, Apple commands 31.1 per cent of sales, behind Android, the operating system on Samsung and HTC phones – with 55.2 per cent of the market share.