The iPhone still draws a crowd.
A full day before the iPhone X was to go on sale at the Apple Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue at 8 a.m. local time Friday, eager buyers took up a whole city block, not put off by having to spend a grand or more for the handset.
The scenario was repeated elsewhere. Apple told CNBC that between 200 and 500 people were waiting in line in front of Apple Stores in Australia, Singapore and Japan.
David Chen, 42, who was first in line on Fifth Avenue, says he is enticed by the iPhone X design. A friend who tried pre-ordering a week ago was told he wouldn’t get the phone until close to Thanksgiving. Chen, a New York resident originally from China, says he couldn’t wait.
Neither could Vincent Brown, 41, who plans to use the camera on the phone to take pictures for his bakery business. Five friends joined him on the line.
Brown says is looking forward to the Face ID facial recognition and says he won’t miss the home button. “The home button is kind of aggravating to me,” he says. As for the price, Brown said he already spent around $1,000 for an iPhone 7 Plus.
Vincent Brown has been here since 6:45 with friends. Runs a bakery in the Bronx, excited for the camera which will help his business pic.twitter.com/hWIyMKLS8r— Eli Blumenthal (@eliblumenthal) November 2, 2017
While Chen and Brown plan to buy the phone for personal use, others were likely looking to make a quick buck reselling the phone, especially with the X reportedly in short supply. Many people on the line spoke little or no English, or were reluctant to talk to USA TODAY about why they were willing to camp out. Apple limits each individual buyer to two phones.
While the X goes on sale Friday in more than 55 countries, the phone is often priced higher overseas. Matthew Wood, who is visiting New York from the UK, says the price of the phone back home would be "200 to 300 pounds" more than the price in the U.S. “It is a lot of money,” Wood concedes. “But you’ve got to think of the features and everything that’s it got. You know you’re buying a quality product.
By his own admission, Wood, is an Apple fanboy. He says he’s bought every single iPhone since the original. He was wearing an Apple Watch and had an iPad Pro on his blanket to keep him occupied while he waits.
A slight sprinkling of rain didn’t deter the 20 or so people who had camped out in front of Apple’s flagship San Francisco store on Thursday so they could be at the head of the line Friday morning to buy the new iPhone X.
First in line was Justin Harris, 21, who was getting two, one for himself and one for his boyfriend. The iPhone 8 had held no interest for him, though he describes himself as a “passionate” Apple person. It was actually nice that it had come out so close to the release of the iPhone X because it cut down on the crowds, he said.
The 8 was “just a phone. The X, that’s for those of us who want a geeky phone,” he said.
A little further back was Colby Park, 19. An industrial design student, he’s been waiting for the X to come out “for months. I’m ready,” he said. He arrived at 10:30 Wednesday night and said he hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep but that was okay.
“We’ve got free Wi-Fi from the store,” he said, gesturing to the Apple store the group was camped out in front of. “I’ve got a chair, a battery, my laptop, I’m good.”
Erick Ballesteros, 27, has waited in a few San Francisco iPhone lines. With the move of the Apple store last year from a somewhat cramped space nearer to Market street to the more expansive site just off Union Square, he’s having the best line ever.
“The Apple people have been bringing us water and they let us use the restroom. We’ve got all this space and people are really nice,” the app programmer said.
He’s been making do with a 7, having skipped the 8. But the X is special. “I want to have it the same day. It’s just not the same to order it online and have it delivered,” he said.
A little further back in line, sitting under big black umbrellas to keep the sun and occasional rain off, were Andy McCabe, 30, Jennifer Bryne, 33 and Chase Klein, 25. The three friends were each being paid $250 by “various people” to hold a place in line for them.
“They’ve got jobs so they’re going to swap out with us Friday morning at 7:30,” said McCabe, who arranged it. He saw an ad on Craigslist for someone looking for someone to stand in line a few days ago.
“They’d already found somebody when I got them, but then I thought, ‘Hey, we can come down and have a camp out and get paid for it.’”
“It beats a day of work. And they got us pizza!” Byrne said of the people whose places they were holding. “It’s a party.”