They had queued – in some cases for 10 days – outside an Apple store in Tokyo to get their hands on the latest iPhones.
That same scene was repeated in cities worldwide as the handsets went on sale in Australia, China, Singapore, Germany, France, Britain, the United States and Canada.
“I am super happy,” said the first customer to buy the top-of-the-line 5S model at the Tokyo store. “The first thing I want to do is to try out the finger print recognition function, that is what I was looking forward to the most.”
Also anxiously awaiting the release were hackers keen to crack that fingerprint security sensor which unlocks the handset. They explained they are “white hats” – good hackers – who just wanted to help Apple identify any technological bugs it may have missed.
As well as letting users unlock their devices, the fingerprint scanner can be used to make purchases on iTunes by simply pressing a finger on the home button. It has been hailed as a major step in popularising the use of biometrics in personal electronics.
The first buyers were obviously pleased with their purchases, but there have been reports of lacklustre pre-orders in the US for the budget plastic-backed, brightly colored version of the phone and also limited supplies of both new models.
A source at a US mobile phone carrier told Reuters that Phone 5C orders “not overwhelming”.
The level of inventory Apple has said it would provide for the 5S and 5C on launch day and in the week after launch is very disappointing, the source said, adding that supply of phones to all carriers appears to be limited.
Apple unveiled the two models – the 5C as well as a more expensive 5S – last week. The 5C marked a departure from its focus on purely premium phones.