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9/21/2012
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iPhone 5 Crowds Kick Off Sales

Apple's newest smartphone is being welcomed the world over with large crowds and long lines.

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Apple iPhone became available Friday at Apple and other retail stores at 8 a.m. local time. The iPhone is launching first in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Australians were the first in the world able to purchase the iPhone 5, and they queued up to be among the initial buyers.

Early reviews of the device were absolutely glowing, though they called out a few weak spots in the iPhone's software. For example, the iPhone 5's processor and LTE 4G radio make it the fastest iPhone yet, but Apple's new Maps application has received tons of criticism for its lack of polish. That hasn't stopped thousands of people from lining up hours--if not days--ahead of time at Apple stores around the globe to buy it.

In addition to being sold at Apple Stores, the iPhone 5 is also available from Best Buy, Target, RadioShack, Walmart, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. The wireless network operators should have a fair amount of units available, but if you're planning to swing through RadioShack or Target, be sure to give the store a call first to see how healthy their supply is. When the iPhone 4S launched in 2011, for example, RadioShack was given a very limited supply of devices for launch day. The largest crowds will be at Apple Stores, which is where the largest supply of devices can be expected for any given market/region.

Apple began taking preorders for the iPhone 5 on September 14. Within 24 hours, Apple had taken in more than 2 million preorders for the phone. Delivery times quickly slipped from assured arrival on launch day to shipping in two to three weeks. iPhones ordered today won't ship for three to four weeks. AT&T said that demand for its variant of the iPhone 5 was far above its expectations.

[ Learn more about Apple's new mobile operating system. See iOS 6: 5 Things That Disappoint. ]

The iPhone 5 has a new, taller 4-inch Retina Display, LTE 4G, a new A6 processor, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 8-megapixel camera, and a new, smaller dock connector. It trades the glass and aluminum sandwich design of the iPhone 4/4S for one that uses less glass and more metals for added durability. The iPhone 5 is 7.6-mm thick, which is a full 1.6-mm thinner than the previous model. It is also 20% lighter.

The iPhone 5 ships with iOS 6, which was released to the general public earlier this week. iOS 6 has more than 200 new features, some of which include PassBook, improvements to Siri, Apple-made Maps, Photo Stream, and many others.

The iPhone 5 is sold in black or white. The 16-GB model costs $199, the 32-GB model costs $299, and the 64-GB model costs $399. Contracts with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless are required to purchase the iPhone at these prices.

A number of small, regional wireless network operators will launch the iPhone 5 on September 28, such as Cricket Wireless, C Spire, and others. These regional players won't be offering the same level of subsidies that the national carriers can offer, so expect to pay more upfront for the device ($549 for the 16-GB model), but less for the wireless service over time.

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