iPhone 5S attracts mobs of veteran line-waiters and first-timers

The new iPhone 5S and 5C officially went on sale Friday at Apple retailers around the country. Line members say the fingerprint sensor, faster processor, and keeping up with the Joneses brought them out to the Apple store for the seventh generation of iPhones.

Adrees Latif/REUTERS
One of the first customers to purchase the Apple iPhone 5S celebrates after exiting the Apple Retail Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York September 20, 2013. Apple Inc's newest smartphone models hit stores on Friday in many countries across the world.

iPhone day 2013 has arrived. Today, customers can buy the iPhone 5S and 5C at Apple retailers and online, and the iPhone 5C online pre-orders will ship.

Apple’s first two-device iPhone rollout has created buzz around the world, offering a cheaper alternative (the 5C) and a top-of-the-line phone (the 5S). Though the 5C was available for pre-order, the 5S has to be bought in-store or online, prompting characteristically long lines at Apple stores around the country.

Take, for example, the many lined up outside of the Apple Store in Boston. Their take on the new iPhones? Classy colors, speedy processing, and staying on top of the most recent technology motivated their hours, even days, of waiting.

“I don’t want anyone having a faster device than I [have],” laughs Shane Getchell, from Boston, who was there to purchase the 5S. He arrived at 5:30 a.m., where there were already “hundreds” in line ahead of him, though he says the line was moving quicker than previous years.

“I like the fingerprint swipes, I’m sure it is a lot faster, and Apple always comes out with great products,” he adds. “They wait too long to come out with a new product. I wish they would do it every two months.”

Another line member, Josh Pitts of Boston, also says his main motivation was to stay ahead of the latest tech and to “beat the Joneses”. But the features like the new camera and fingerprint sensor have him intrigued.

Sometimes, however, staying on the cutting edge can cost money beyond the iPhone.

“Somebody sold [a] pregnant lady his spot in line for an undisclosed amount of money,” Mr. Pitts says. “[If I were him] I probably would have just given her the spot, but y’know, we all have to make a dollar.”

And that jump in line could mean the difference between getting one phone or another. Many people hoped to get the gold-colored 5S, but according to several people in line, the gold option was accounted for before 6 a.m. Apple employees in Boston declined to comment on phone distribution and demand, though Apple's website says the gold color now won’t be available for shipping until October.

Though most in line were buzzing about the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5C had caught one persons’ eye. Gino Giannone is Italian, but lives in New York and was visiting his girlfriend in Boston. He stopped by the Apple store to get his iPhone fixed. He said he didn’t get the hype and would never wait in line for a phone (though he would wait in line to see the band LMFAO). He doesn’t feel like the iPhone 5S offered much change, but the colors on the 5C are appealing.

“Before there was just black and white, but now there are a lot of colors to choose from,” he says. “I haven’t seen that done before.”

For others, the 5C was nothing impressive.

“The 5C is nice, but I think it’s for kids,” says Anne Morelli of Boston, who was hoping to purchase the gold iPhone 5S. “It’s just a lower level that’s nice for people who want to spend that amount and have that kind of lower tier of Apple accessibility.”

Eduardo Ozorno, a musician living in Boston, agrees.

“I think it’s more like a toy, whereas the iPhone 5S is a better product in general,” he says.

The fast 64-bit processor on the 5S impressed Mr. Ozorno, who says he is excited to see what apps would run on the new phone that could help his music. He had never waited in line for an iPhone before, electing to pre-order the iPhone 5, and was happy to get the “Apple waiting line” experience. If the iPhone 5S had been available for pre-order, however, he says he “definitely” would have ordered it online.

Other line members thrive on the ritual of waiting outside for the newest product. Ms. Morelli was toward the back of the line when the Apple store officially opened for the day at 10 a.m., but she came prepared. She packed breakfast and a bottle of water, tricks learned while camping out for every iPhone that has come out so far. She likes that Apple chose not to do a pre-order, as it creates a sense of community the day the devices go on sale.

“This makes it more of an event – it’s fun, it’s exciting,” says Morelli. “I love the phone, but it’s more about the hoopla.”

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