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iPhone X goes on sale, bringing out the true Apple superfans

Apple fans around the world line up to be among those few, those happy few, to get their hands on the iPhone X.

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The iPhone X goes on sale in Apple's Sydney store. 

Claire Reilly/CNET

Production problems? Forget it.

The iPhone 8? A distant memory.

Throwing down more than a grand for the latest and greatest iPhone? That's what they're here for.

The iPhone X went on sale around the world on Friday, drawing crowds and long lines as Apple fans patiently waited to get their hands on the very best iPhone money can buy.

And spend money they did. The iPhone X (that's pronounced "ten" not "ex") just scrapes in under 1K in the US and UK, with a starting price of $999 and £999, respectively.

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But in Australia, one of the first countries in the world to start selling the device, that price goes up to AU$1,579. And if you want the larger 256GB capacity, you'll spend a whopping AU$1,879. (That's $1,149 or £1,149 in the US and UK.)

This second launch, which comes more than a month after the release of the iPhone 8, is the latest wrinkle in the annual gathering of Apple fanboys, gadget enthusiasts and publicity seekers. Apple's decision to stagger the launches presented consumers with the dilemma of buying the more readily available iPhone 8 immediately, or holding out for the supposedly supply-constrained iPhone X.

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Staff wait for crowds to come in to the Apple Store in Sydney on iPhone X launch day. 

Claire Reilly

To the people who showed up today, there was no question which iPhone won out.

They turned out in droves, despite (or maybe because of) early murmurings of production delays and reports that Apple might ship only half the number of devices it originally planned.

For many, it's the only way to get the device on launch day, with pre-orders for the Nov. 3 shipping date selling out in as little as 10 minutes. Now, customers are facing delays of up to six weeks to get the true flagship Apple phone.

Sydney

Apple's flagship Australian store in Sydney was the first in the world to sell the new iPhone, and early birds were queuing since the start of the week to be able to buy it off the shelf. 

First through the doors were Sydneysiders Bishoy Behman, who'd been lining up for a week to buy the iPhone and who livestreamed the event on his iPhone 8 Plus, and Mazen Kourouche, who queued from Friday morning after preordering "literally the minute" orders opened last week.

So why buy the iPhone X when you have a weeks-old device in your hand?

"It's the new iPhone. It's a new generation," said Behman, who bought one 256GB iPhone X for himself and one to sell. "I'm excited for this. The 8, not so much."

A software engineering student and part-time tech blogger, Kourouche did an unboxing for me in the store.

"The notch doesn't seem to be intruding," he says, referring to the black section at the top of the screen. "I'm going to have to get used to no home button."

Next to him, 19-year-old Chinese studies student Jesse Goodwin plays with the Face ID he's just set up, but he has some doubts.

"When I'm in China, I wear a face mask so I won't be able to unlock the phone." 

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A huge crowd gathered outside the Apple Store in Shibuya, Tokyo, with queues for the iPhone X stretching at least two streets away.

Huang Shuxian for CNET

Japan

Japan was hyped about the iPhone X as well, as lines at the Apple Store in Shibuya district in Tokyo stretched to at least two streets away. Apple has a considerable fanbase in Japan, so it was no surprise to find that there was huge interest in the new phone.

China 

Over in Beijing, lines at the Apple Store in Sanlitun weren't as crazy long as they were in Japan. With five different outlets in China's capital city, Apple iPhone X buyers were more spread out. Still, there was plenty of enthusiasm for the new phone.

Serial Apple queuer Lloyd Yu, 31, who works at a startup, was first in line at 5 a.m., and got two 256GB iPhone X devices in Space Grey. He already owns an iPhone 8 Plus and wanted to upgrade because he's a big fan of Apple.

"Everything Apple does, I accept, because everything Apple designs, is the best," said Yu, adding that he's also looking to try out Face ID.

Yu, who's apparently a familiar face to Apple employees, was seen hugging and chatting with staff. By the time he left the store, surprisingly, the lines seemed to have grown larger compared to earlier in the morning, a response that's considerably different from Apple's iPhone 8 lackluster launch.

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A modest queue waits outside the Apple Store for the iPhone X launch in Beijing.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Singapore

Rain didn't dampen the spirits of Apple fans in Singapore, who queued to buy the iPhone X from the sole Apple store in South East Asia. 

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The first buyers in Singapore were two 22 year-old students who flew in from Bangkok, Thailand, after preordering online.

Zoey Chong/CNET

Queues started early, with 52 year-old Singaporean homemaker Ala Ahmed telling CNET she'd been waiting since 6.30 a.m. Thursday to get four iPhones for her son and his friends who were away serving their national service. 

But others came from much further afield. Kittiwat Wang and Supakorn Rieksiri, two 22-year-old students from Bangkok, Thailand, preordered their iPhones online and flew to Singapore to pick them up. The two friends said devices get to Singapore much earlier than Thailand, making it worth the short flight.

Further down the queue, student Christine Nguyen, also 22, came from Vietnam with four friends for launch day, saying she'd waited for the iPhone X because the iPhone 8 hadn't seemed too different from earlier models.

London

First to get their hands on an iPhone X in the UK was son of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, Marco Pierre White Jr. The 22-year-old handed over his payment in cash, flashing £50 notes at waiting photographers and grinning as he picked up two 256GB iPhone Xs, one black, one white.

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Marco Pierre White Junior plays with fire as he holds one of his new iPhones between his teeth.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The celebrity offspring, who is also a model, said he had been waiting two days in the cold. He claimed to also already have an iPhone X, given to him early by a friend who worked at Carphone Warehouse, supposedly bringing his total up to three.

What is he going to do with all those iPhones? "I don't know, man," he said, adding that he hadn't really given it much thought. "I'm going home to sleep."

Pierre White live-streamed his Apple Store experience on his Samsung phone. "I'm glad to be back with Apple," he said.

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London's flagship Apple Store was busier than usual.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Lines outside the store were longer than they have been in recent years. With about 250 people in line, there were significantly more takers for the X than there were for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in September, when only about 20 people bothered to show up to the capital's Regent Street store for opening time.

The most talked-about feature by far during the wait was the huge display, which drew admirers despite the controversial "notch." 

"It's the screen that I really got it for," said Troy Kennedy, 28, from London as he picked up his 256GB iPhone X in slate grey. He'd initially bought an iPhone 8, but returned it when he decided he wanted the X.

"It's been a really long time waiting for Apple to release a really bad-ass product," he said.

New York

The scene at the Apple Store along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was even more hectic than usual on an iPhone launch day.

That's because the store wasn't even there, replaced with a smartly decorated -- but temporary -- space nearby housed inside the former FAO Schwarz toy store (yes, the one from the movie "Big"). The Apple Store's iconic glass cube was torn down and tall, green barriers encircled the area, making room for a construction site that will eventually give way to a remodeled glass cube and store.

Instead of crowds gathering around the cube, the lines for the new iPhone X were bunched up alongside the temporary location, right next to the construction site. Just in time for the store's opening, the media gaggle was hurried inside to witness Apple employees countdown from 10 (very on message for this particular launch) and high five entrants as they eagerly showed up to relieve themselves of $999 or more.

There was no obligatory media circus to interview the first person to snag an iPhone X, since there was not enough room. Instead, the scene in the store was a mess of activity and commerce, with plenty of folks flashing piles of cash to grab Apple's latest gadget.

Supplies, at least at the Fifth Avenue store and the location on the Upper West Side, seemed plentiful. 

Stefan Dumitrescu, an 18-year-old Romanian studying film in New York, was at the Fifth Avenue store and bought three iPhone Xs using a large stack of hundred dollar bills, with plans to keep one and give the other two to his mom and sister back in Romania this holiday.

Ever the Apple fan, he bought an iPhone 8 a few weeks ago. But he dropped it from a car window and it broke, so the device is now with AppleCare.

When asked by an Apple employee if he wanted AppleCare coverage on one of his new phones, he replied: "Not anymore. I'm going to be careful this time."

At another section of the store floor, Louise Howard, 54, of Manhattan, was purchasing two iPhone Xs.

"The other one is for my cycling instructor, because he's a very handsome man," she said, quickly adding he will be paying for it. "He's not that handsome."

San Francisco

Only a handful of people stood in line at Apple's San Francisco Union Square store Thursday. But by Friday morning, a line stretched around the block, winding up Powell Street alongside the city's famed cable cars. 

The first person in line, 21-year-old Justin Harris, had been waiting outside the Apple Store since Sunday. His friend and roommate in Oakland, California, 20-year-old Ross Hendrix, came to check in on him periodically, holding Harris' spot when he left to get food or charge his iPhone 7 Plus. 

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Cassie Zhou, a 23-year-old who works as a product analyst for a gaming company, preordered the 256GB space gray iPhone X when orders began a week ago.

James Martin/CNET

Harris, who streams video to his nearly 1,500 YouTube followers via his Snap Spectacles or other devices, said he got in line so early for "the experience."

"Where else can you meet as many Apple fanatics?" he said, before buying a 64GB silver iPhone X. 

Cassie Zhou, a 23-year-old who works as a product analyst for a gaming company, preordered the 256GB space gray iPhone X when orders began a week ago. She didn't want to wait in line for hours -- or days -- but had decided it was time to upgrade from her iPhone 6.

"If you're dropping a few hundred for a phone, why not drop a few hundred more?" Zhou said. "Plus, sometimes you want to be a poop emoji."

Palo Alto, California

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Apple CEO Tim Cook hugs David Casarez as he enters the Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto, California. The 25-year-old had been waiting in line for the iPhone X since Thursday. 

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Visitors to the downtown Palo Alto, California, Apple Store had a special visitor, Tim Cook. The Apple CEO was waiting inside the store for doors to open at 8 a.m. PT. As employees opened the entrance, Cook walked outside to hug David Casarez, 25, who had been waiting outside the store since Tuesday.

Cook stuck around to take photos and talk to customers. The Palo Alto store is considered Apple's hometown store, as there traditionally was no Apple Store in Cupertino, and Palo Alto is where co-founder Steve Jobs lived. Now Apple has a small store on its campus.

First published Nov. 2, 3:38 p.m. PT.
Update, 7:07 p.m. PT:
adds material from Japan and China; 9:51 p.m. PT: adds material from Singapore; Nov. 3, 2:35 a.m. PT: adds material from London; 7:30 a.m. PT: adds material from New York; 9:50 a.m. PT: adds material from San Francisco; 12:00 p.m. PT: adds material from Palo Alto.

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