iPhone 5 begins its world tour in Australia

Demand appears high for a device that's already seen record sales. Analysts say Apple will sell at least 6 million in the first weekend.

Casey Newton
Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
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Watch this: iPhone 5 launches in Australia

And they're off.

Throngs of people around the world are piling into Apple stores to claim the iPhone 5, promising to deliver a huge weekend for a device that has already seen record sales.

Aussie siblings James and Tamsyn Vohradsky were first to buy the phone in Australia.
Aussie siblings James and Tamsyn Vohradsky were first to buy the phone in Australia. ZDNET

Apple said 2 million new iPhones were sold the day it became available for pre-order. Within 24 hours, shipping times slipped to two weeks for the device. Currently, the wait for a pre-ordered iPhone sits at 3 to 4 weeks.

Aussie siblings James and Tamsyn Vohradsky were said to be the first people in the world to purchase the new phone at retail.

Customer demand for the iPhone 5 appeared strong even as Apple became the source of mockery over its new maps application, the many flaws in which have been cataloged with glee across the Internet. (For its part, Apple says the app will get better as people use it.)

Analysts estimate that at worst, the device will sell 6 million units over its first weekend.

Reviews for the new device have been strong. CNET's Scott Stein called it "the iPhone we've always wanted," a device that is at once completely rebuilt and completely familiar."

Buyers line up in Australia to be among the first to purchase the iPhone 5.
Buyers line up outside Apple's flagship store in Sydney, Australia, to be among the first to purchase the iPhone 5. Joe Hanlon/CNET

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The iPhone 5 includes a larger screen, access to 4G LTE networks, and a faster A6 processor. A redesign of the body made it significantly lighter than any iPhone to date while maintaining battery life at levels similar to those of the 4S.

Lining up for the iPhone 5 in Singapore. ZDNet Asia

Update, 7:41 p.m. PT: The lack of enterprise support has not deterred business users in Singapore from buying the iPhone 5, as they are willing to use other devices to conduct business activities.

Kelvin Zin, acting head at Singapore Economic Development Board's industry identification and incubation, was in the line in Singapore before 8 a.m. Friday for the new Apple smartphone. He told ZDNet Asia he was not concerned he wouldn't be able to access the company e-mail messages through the iPhone 5, since he would still be able to do so through his Apple iPad which had the required VPN client installed. Read more about it here.

Update, 9:30 p.m. PT: We now have photos from the Singapore iPhone 5 launch:

M1 gave out goodie bags containing water and a fan to those who were in the queue. The bag says "I've got the iPhone 5 on Singapore's First Nationwide 4G network." Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia
M1's LTE mascot, Jack, kicks off the launch of the Apple iPhone 5. Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia
Local telco SingTel held its launch at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. Some 68,000 subscribers expressed interest in getting the iPhone 5, but only 10,000 of them managed to secure an appointment to purchase the iPhone 5 this weekend. Reuben Lee/CNET Asia
The larger venue meant that the operator could set up as many as 55 counters to facilitate the buying process. Reuben Lee/CNET Asia