Sure, you could order your iPhone online and have it delivered to you — or reserve it for an in-store pickup at a time of your choosing. But for devoted Apple fans, tradition is tradition. September means iPhone launch, and iPhone launch means lining up outside an Apple Store to get a device literally as soon as possible. This year Friday, Sept. 20 is the day, and Apple’s global launch of theand has already kicked off in Sydney, Australia.
Muhannad Al Nadaf, 21 was the first in Sydney to get an iPhone. It was a big day for Al Nadaf: For the past five years he’s tried — and failed — to be the very first person in Sydney to get an iPhone on launch day. It turns out 2019 is his year, but it wasn’t easy. The Apple Store opens at 8 a.m., and Al Nadaf got his spot in line at 3 a.m.
It was a surprisingly tumultuous wait, too. “There are a lot of clubs on this road, all the drunk people were coming out and they kept abusing me,” he said. “Then the council came and washed the floor, so I couldn’t even sit down and look at my laptop.” He brought a blanket, rather than a chair, and the floor cleaning meant he couldn’t use it.
“I’ve been standing up since literally 3 a.m.”
He got anin Space Grey, by the way. His first priority is testing the hero feature of the iPhone 11 Pro phones, the tri-camera setup. The Pro phones level up the iPhone’s photography game over last year’s XS line with an extra camera. On the rear you’ll now find a 12-megapixel camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens and, for the first time on an iPhone, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide shooter.
No. 2 in line was Mazen Kourouche, who Al Nadaf dethroned for the first spot. Until now Kharoush, a YouTuber, has been first in line each year since 2015, when Apple launched the iPhone 6S range. In 2017 Kharoush started lining up outside the Apple Store a full 11 days early to get the iPhone 8. This year, not fussed with being No. 1 anymore, he arrived two hours early, at 6 a.m.
Around 100 people lined up at the Apple Store in the heart of Sydney’s central business district. Thanks to the magic of time zones, Sydney is one of the first cities in the world where the iPhone launches each year. Southeast Asia came next, with Apple Stores in countries like Singapore also serving throngs of Apple fanatics. For those in line, there’s a huge amount of fanfare around buying a new phone, with Apple Store employees giving buyers a round of applause as they flooded in at 8 a.m. when the doors opened.
For those less devoted to Apple, the now 12-year-old phenomenon of the iPhone launch lineup is more perplexing. With online preorders, in-store pickups and deals from carrier partners, there’s less reason than ever to wait in line. The lack of practicality speaks to Apple’s enduring ability to hype its iPhone launches as cultural events.
“I’m here for the experience,” said 17-year-old student Jack, andangling out of one ear as he speaks. “All the news crew is here, everyone else is here, it’s an environment you don’t see with any other phone launch.”
Apple this year is launching two iPhone lines at the same time. The iPhone 11 starts at $699 (£729, AU$1,199), and is the new iPhone for the masses. Then there’s the iPhone 11 Pro ($999; £1,049; AU$1,749) and iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1,099; £1,149; AU$1,899). As you can tell by those prices, the Pro and Pro Max are sumptuous phones for those unwilling to compromise on anything. Choosing a Pro over a regular 11 gets you an extra camera (the iPhone 11 has dual cameras, the Pros tri cameras) and a beautiful OLED display over the 11’s Liquid Retina LCD display.
Originally published Sept. 19, 4:29 PT time and updated regularly as the phones launch in more countries.
CNET may get a commission from retail offers.