In what has become a familiar sight, legions of Apple fans queued up in front of Apple stores around the globe for a chance to get their hands on the latest iPhone XS and XS Max, which launched on the 21st alongside the Apple Watch Series 4. This held true in spite of the fact that many stores had sold out of their iPhone XS models as soon as pre-orders opened.
The excitement was palpable throughout Apple flagship stores in major cities like London, Berlin, and Tokyo. In Palo Alto, Apple CEO Tim Cook met buyers and took photos as has been his custom for the past several years.
On the other side of the globe, digital journalist Matthew Mohan tweeted photos of the long line that had formed outside of the Apple store in Singapore Thursday afternoon in anticipation of Friday’s launch, undeterred by the sweltering heat. He reported that security guards had been called to maintain order and that numbered wrist bands had been distributed, allowing scores of customers to escape the heat for up to an hour without losing their place in line.
Scenes outside Apple Store in Orchard Road ahead of the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR launch tomorrow morning. Movement is orderly and security briefing those in line on the do’s and don’ts. We’re looking at a long long wait for those in the queue. pic.twitter.com/my07JLrStB
— Matthew Mohan (@MatthewMohanCNA) September 20, 2018
In Hong Kong, Apple devotee Li Jun told Bloomberg that he had travelled all the way from Guangzhou to purchase an iPhone XS in spite of the hefty price tag. “iPhone XS is expensive for me, but I just can’t resist the new dual SIMs feature,” Li said. “The feature allows me to have a local SIM card installed when I work abroad, without taking out my Chinese SIM card.”
Another Apple fan in London told Bloomberg that the XS Max’s larger dimensions had been the biggest factor in her purchase. “I bought the iPhone X last year, but I took it back the next day and stuck with my iPhone 7 Plus,” Eli Di Lauro said. “When you’re used to the bigger size it’s hard to go back to a smaller one.”
Though the Apple’s iPhone launch remains an annual bright spot in an otherwise stalling global smartphone market, analysts were quick to note that the lines are not as long as they used to be. In New York, 406 people lined up for the iPhone XS, whereas more than twice as many had queued up the year before for the launch of the iPhone X.
Granted there’s significant construction and an alternate location, I haven’t seen such low turnout for an iPhone launch at the NYC flagship Apple store in at least three years. Not even a hundred people waiting. pic.twitter.com/Is7w0bzOoZ
— Ben Ratner (@BenMakesTV) September 21, 2018
“The lines outside of the Apple retail stores we visited in New York City were noticeably shorter this year than the iPhone X and the iPhone 8/8+,” BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk wrote
The Nikkei Asian Reviewreported similar results, noting that the line in front of Tokyo’s Apple flagship had dwindled to about half the size of last year’s.
The shrinking lines don’t necessarily correlate to global demand for Apple smartphones, however, and may in part be a result of the growing popularity of making pre-orders and scheduling in-store pickups. This is an option that Apple has been encouraging customers to take in recent years.
The cheaper iPhone XR is slated to go on sale on the 26th of next month, and will be available in white, black, coral, blue, yellow, and red.