Apple’s flagship iPhone X hit stores around the world Friday, as the company predicted bumper sales despite the handset’s eye-watering price tag and celebrated a surge in profits.

Apple enthusiasts around the globe were lining up to get their hands on the new device which features facial recognition, cordless charging and an edge-to-edge screen made of organic light-emitting diodes used in high-end televisions.

The new gadget marks the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone release and is released in about 50 markets on Friday, starting in Asia and then followed by Europe and the Americas.

The launch came as Apple announced a 19-percent jump in net profit to $10.7 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter to September 30. Revenues were up 12 percent at $52.6 billion.


‘I don’t like to wait’
“If I don’t get it on the first day, I may as well wait until next year’s model — I don’t like waiting,” said Mathew Kam, a 21-year-old film student who has been queuing outside the Apple store on London’s Regent Street for 16 hours. The line had grown to around 100 by 0800 GMT.

In Paris, where a queue had also formed in front of the Apple Store near the French capital’s Garnier Opera house, 21-year-old engineering student Jeremy said he had worked throughout the summer so as to be able to treat himself to a new phone.

He bought the most expensive version of the model costing 1,300 euros, which is more than the minimum monthly wage in France.

In Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, Apple fans had been lining up since the early hours.

Timo, 16, said when he arrived at 7:30 am (0630 GMT), the queue already stretched about 100 metres. “I wanted to be one of the first to see it,” he said.

Sold out within minutes
Tim, a teacher, had travelled around 80 kilometres from Heidelberg to collect the phone he had ordered online. “All the reserved models were sold out within 10 minutes,” he recalled.

The new device was not creating such a buzz in the Greek capital of Athens, however, where no queues formed in front of the licensed Apple dealer in the city’s chic Kolonaki quarter. But the company’s marketing officer in Athens, Natalia Revela, insisted she was expecting “strong demand” and a “successful launch” for the phone.

Vyron Hatzidromou, a 38-year-old lawyer, said he “never missed” a new Apple launch. “I always buy the latest models when they come out for the hype and the fun,” he said.

The 1,300-euro price tag is nearly three times the minimum monthly salary in Greece. It was certainly expensive, “but worth it,” Hatzidromou said.

Earlier in Asia, buyers ho had pre-ordered the phone online queued to pick up their new purchases, saying they were willing to pay for what they saw as a landmark model.

“It’s the 10th anniversary phone — anyway, other phones like the Samsung are not much less,” said banker Tony Yeung, 35, as he queued outside the Apple store in Hong Kong’s Festival Walk mall.

‘It’s worth it’
Around 300 customers waited overnight outside Singapore’s Apple store, the first shop in Southeast Asia to sell the new model.

Supakorn Rieksiri and Kittiwat Wang, both 22, said they had flown in from Bangkok on Thursday to pick up pre-orders of two phones each.

“With all the different features like facial recognition and the bigger screen, it’s all quite worth it,” said Rieksiri, adding that the second handset was a gift for his mother.

Apple is setting an ambitious goal for itself to reinvent the smartphone as it strives to fend off fierce competition from rivals, especially in China.

The iPhone is its main profit driver, accounting for more than half its revenues.

Apple closed out its fiscal year with full-year profit of $48.35 billion and revenues of $229 billion.

Smartphone sales climbed by about a million units to 46.7 million in the final quarter of the California company’s fiscal year, which Apple chief executive Tim Cook called a “very strong finish” to 2017. AFP