Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 5 - a lighter, thinner and more powerful version of its iconic mobile device, staking its claim to leadership in the red-hot smartphone market. AP Photo
Gadget lovers in Australia were the first to get their hands on the new generation iPhone 5 on Friday, with the queues snaking around Apple's flagship store in Sydney suggesting another huge hit for the company.
Some had been camped out since Tuesday to be the first to test new device, which has a bigger screen and a slimmer body, and which Apple chief Tim Cook has called "the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone".
The crowds appeared to be bigger than for previous launches of the iconic smartphone, with the faithful filming the experience on their iPhones and iPads as staff inside clapped and cheered when the doors opened at 8:00am (2200 GMT Thursday).
But the event was also hijacked by companies looking for free publicity, with the first dozen or so in the queue wearing promotional t-shirts or carrying advertising materials.
"Seven of us are here from our company, since midday Tuesday," said Todd Foot, 24, who was first in the line and works for an organisation that compares and reviews mobile phones.
"We wanted to be the first in the world to be able to compare it with other smartphones. We've actually had telephone hookups with the first in the lines in New York and London. It's been a bit crazy."
Apple received more than two million orders for the hotly-anticipated gadget in the 24 hours after it began pre-sales online on September 14, pushing many deliveries back into October because of the unprecedented demand.
Australian media said many consumers who wanted to buy the phone advertised online for people to stand in the queue for them, paying anything from Aus$40 (US$42) to several hundred dollars.
The company, whose shares have soared past $700 in anticipation of the launch, unveiled the new phone at a San Francisco media event on September 12 and promised that it would be available in 100 countries by year's end.
As well as Sydney, it goes on sale on Friday in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Britain.
Some analysts have tipped Apple to sell 10 million units globally in the opening days and 50 million before the end of 2012.