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Customers camp outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early Sept. 21, 2012. (MICHAEL DALDER/REUTERS)
Customers camp outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early Sept. 21, 2012. (MICHAEL DALDER/REUTERS)

Crowds queue to snap up latest iPhone Add to ...

Early sales of the Apple iPhone 5 appeared to live up to the pre-launch hype with long queues forming outside stores in London and Sydney and shops in Asia selling out of the latest smartphone within hours of its release.

More than 1,000 people queued at Apple’s London flagship Regent Street store to buy the new gadget, while in Sydney there were long lines outside the George Street outlet, where customers were limited to buying a maximum of two phones.

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In Singapore, the Apple device sold out in less than an hour at one of five approved outlets, forcing the manager to display an “out of stock” sign at the entrance for the rest of the day.

Eric Wee, manager of the iStudio store near Raffles Place, one of the busiest parts of the central business district, said a queue of 50 to 60 people had formed ahead of the store’s 11am opening.

“It was very fast. I was expecting about the same as the launch of the iPhone 4 but this time round it got an even better response,” he said, adding that the new model’s wider screen had helped attract buyers.

Apple supplied only 100 units to his store, giving more to outlets operated by telecoms vendors such as SingTel, Mr Wee said. He did not expect any new stock to arrive at his store for at least another week.

Asked if he felt Apple had deliberately rationed stocks of the iPhone to encourage demand, he said: “I don’t know, could be.”

The high cost of the device, which retails for £529 ($861 U.S.) for the 16GB version and up to £699 for the 64GB phone in the U.K. and $799 (Australian) in Australia for the smaller memory version and A$999 for the larger model, did not appear to deter Apple fans.

However, complaints soon emerged about the phone’s new mapping function, with reports that it had placed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach in the landlocked western suburbs.

Overnight, users of older iPhones and iPads flocked to the company’s support forums and social media sites to complain about misnamed towns, lost train stations, including London’s Paddington, and poor search results from the new Maps app for its updated software for iOS 6.

An Irish minister said that Apple’s designation of a farm in Dublin as an airport was “dangerously misleading”.

But the outcry over inaccuracies and glitches in the app did not deter everyone. James, 16, queueing outside Apple’s Regent Street store in London who declined to give his surname because, he said, he should have been at school, shrugged off concerns about the Maps app.

“I like Apple Maps – it’s better than Google Maps. It brings you right down to street level and you can see everything perfectly,” he said.

In Paris, some workers at the company’s stores attempted to disrupt the iPhone 5 launch after voting to strike over working conditions.

 
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