Customers around the world lined up Friday to pick up Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Apple’s new iPhone 5c is the company’s answer to calls for a less expensive model; the phone is made of plastic, rather than metal and glass, reducing its cost. The iPhone 5s is the next evolution in the company’s line of high-end phones and packs a better camera, faster processor and embedded fingerprint scanner in the home button.
The new phones were introduced earlier this month. They haven’t inspired quite the fervor of previous models, though they have won high marks from reviewers. Still, analysts predict that Apple could see a record sales weekend, likely topping the 5 million units it moved during the iPhone 5 opening weekend.
It was more difficult to predict how many people would show up in lines at stores around the country, but the turnout has been large. One reason could be that the iPhone 5s, the phone of choice for traditional iPhone customers, was not available for pre-sale.
Apple stores opened at 8 a.m. and are seeing big crowds. But users can also pick up phones from wireless carrier stores and select Best Buy, RadioShack,Target and Wal-Mart stores, though the retail partners are unlikely to have as much stock as carriers or Apple itself.
Still, to get the full feeling of an Apple launch, there’s no beating the atmosphere in line at the tech giant’s own stores. Arlington News posted a picture of the store at The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, showing the line extending for several storefronts; a Twitter user reported that the line went “all the way down past Macy’s.”
My Washington Post colleague Timothy Lee counted nearly 200 people lined up at the Apple store in Georgetown.
Philip Elmer DeWitt of Fortune reported “record crowds” at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York. He counted 1,068 people in line an hour before the store opened and estimated that more folks were joining the crowd at a rate of around 15 customers per minute.
Color is a big feature in the latest generation of Apple phones, and consumers may have a better chance of getting their favorite in stores rather than online. Those interested in the iPhone 5c can pick from five glossy, candy shades: green, blue, yellow, pink and white. The iPhone 5s comes in slate and black, gray and white or gold and white.
The gold version of the iPhone 5s appears to be the most popular model on Apple’s Web site. As of Friday morning, anyone looking to buy a gold phone of any size and on any carrier sees a shipping date of “October.”
The iPhone 5s starts at $199 for a 16 GB model. For more memory, customers must pay $299 or $399. The iPhone 5c costs $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32 GB model.