SINGAPORE: The afternoon heat, a lack of sleep and the heavy downpour which bucketed down on Orchard Road last night were all worth it when 20-year-old Le Van Thang finally got hold of two brand new iPhones on Friday (Sep 21) morning.
Mr Le, who had been in the queue since 7am on Thursday, was among the first customers who got their hands on the eagerly anticipated iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
“I don’t feel tired,” said Mr Le, who purchased two iPhone XS Max models – one for himself and another for a friend. “I’m so happy to get the iPhones. Now I have to rush to the airport and fly home to Vietnam.”
A queue of more than 400 had formed as early as Thursday afternoon, and the number swelled to close to 800 just before the doors opened at 8am on Friday.
Those further ahead in line had to brave the heavy rain as well, after a thunderstorm engulfed Orchard Road on Thursday evening.
Many were seen taking shelter towards the front of the building, huddled under blankets and umbrellas.
There were also other distractions while waiting, said 31-year-old Eric Japri, who got by on a mere three hours of sleep last night.
“There was a Huawei guy giving away power banks,” said Mr Japri, who had flown in from Jakarta for the launch. “It was quite a hassle for security who had to get rid of him but some of those in line kept asking and approaching him for the power banks.”
In response to Channel NewsAsia's queries, Huawei said it gave out 200 of its power banks, which retails for S$98 each.
But the wait was over early Friday morning to the delight of the waiting crowd, as Apple staff applauded them to cheers and camera flashes.
“I had very little sleep because we didn’t have long to go for toilet breaks,” said Vietnamese Tony Tran. “But after getting these phones, I don’t feel tired anymore!”
Mr Tran, who purchased two phones, said the larger screen size and dual-SIM support were the two features he liked most about the phone.
“In my country, many use two phones,” he explained. “I love iPhones but those in the past only had one SIM.”
Self-professed Apple “fanboy” Darryll Seow was one of those in the store during the opening, having pre-ordered the phones online.
“I’m currently using the last generation Apple phone but I decided to change because it’s Apple after all,” said Mr Seow, who purchased an iPhone XS. “I was hoping for bigger changes to the phone so this kind of disappointed me but I’ll just buy it.”
Local telcos told Channel NewsAsia that they have seen brisk interest for both the iPhone XS and XS Max.
M1 said the company received “enthusiastic response” during the registration-of-interest phase for both phones. This was conducted over three days from Sep 13 to 16.
A Singtel spokesperson said: “Our customers are always seeking the latest Apple upgrades, especially when it comes to iPhones. So far, we’re seeing similar customer interest for iPhone XS as compared to the previous year.”
When contacted, StarHub said: "We are seeing strong response to Apple's latest products from our customers."
For the first time, online marketplace Lazada also launched the new devices on its site at the same time as the Apple store. Traffic to Lazada's online Apple store on Friday morning was up 57 times compared to its usual traffic, it said.
The iPhone XS retails from S$1,649 and the iPhone XS Max from S$1,799.