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iPhone 5 preorders top 2M in first 24 hours, shattering record

That's double the 1 million preorders for the iPhone 4S, Apple says. Apparently consumers aren't put off by what some critics have called minimal improvements.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
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The iPhone 5 vs. the iPhone 4S. James Martin/CNET

Apple said today that the iPhone 5 notched more than 2 million preorders in its first 24 hours, more than doubling the tally of the iPhone 4S last year.

The iPhone 4S saw 1 million preorders over its first 24 hours.

It's not a huge surprise that the preorders are so high; Apple's Web site was overwhelmed on Friday, and the carrier stores began to push back their delivery estimates toward the end of the day. The iPhone 5 is benefiting from pent-up demand among consumers who had sought a new design, bigger display, and a 4G LTE connection.

Based on the pre-order figure, Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley raised his estimate to 9 million to 10 million iPhone 5 units sold by September 29, up from a prior forecast of 6 million units.

Early indications for iPhone 5 demand have been positive. AT&T earlier said that it posted record preorders of its own, although it declined to provide specific figures. The company said only that the iPhone 5 performed better than any previous iPhone over the first day and the first weekend.

A Sprint representative told CNET that its preorder sales quickly met expectations.

Apple enthusiasts, meanwhile, have already begun to line up at the New York flagship store on Fifth Ave., some having arrived as early as Friday.

Apple said that demand exceeded the initial supply. While a majority of the orders are expected to be fulfilled on Sept. 21, many are scheduled to be delivered in October, the company said. Both Apple and the carriers have already pushed back the shipment dates by several weeks.

Eyes on Apple's new iPhone 5 (pictures)

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"iPhone 5 preorders have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," Philip Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, said in a statement today.

Apple took some heat with the seemingly minor improvements to the iPhone 5, which retains a similar look despite a stretched-out design to accommodate the larger display. Samsung Electronics even took out an ad attacking the iPhone 5's minimal changes, although Apple's fanboys were quick to respond over the weekend.

The design change, as well as the faster 4G LTE connection, are seemingly enough to warrant even higher demand for the phone. Apple's products have long come out of the gate strong; the real test lies in how long the company can keep up its momentum.

Updated at 6:45 a.m. PT: to include a statement from Sprint.

Watch this: Apple announces ultrafast iPhone 5 with 4G LTE