Hundreds stood in line this morning at shopping malls across Canada to buy iPhone 6, the newest release from Apple.
At a store in Toronto’s Eaton Centre, the iPhone Plus, the larger-screen model, was sold out by 7 a.m. ET and Apple was only able to take orders. On eBay, the latest iPhone was selling for between $1,200 to $1,600.
RCMP were called in to control a crowd of more than 600 who turned out to buy the phones in a mall in Vancouver early in the morning.
"Apple plays a very different game than most of its competitors," Carmi Levy, a technology analyst told CBC News. "Its devices are fashion statements, lifestyle statements. When you pull an iPhone out of your pocket … you're making a statement about who you are and what you value."
With a larger screen and a new iPad-style design, the latest iPhones have an ultra-thin body and rounded corners. They also boast faster processors and a better camera.
"Apple doesn't create product categories. It reinvents existing ones and refines them and drives the mainstream," noted Levy. "Smartphones existed before the iPhone but Apple made everybody buy one and install apps."
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Another attraction is an easy-to-use operating system, iOS 8, offering a breadth of apps. While Android has long had larger screens, Apple has some longtime acolytes who now are no longer tempted to switch to get the big screen.
Customers are being encouraged to use the two-step verification process, which protects all the data stored in iCloud along with protecting Apple ID account information. Customer data such as photos, messages, email, contacts and call history is protected by each individual’s passcode on iPhones and iPads running iOS 8.
'Apple doesn't create product categories. It reinvents existing ones.' — Tech expert Carmi Levy
The company is facing some criticism in law enforcement circles for its new security measures. Critical evidence such as a drug dealer’s accounts or child pornography is often held on mobile devices such as smartphones. Apple has said that 93 per cent of requests by law enforcement is in the form of a "device request," where officers are working on behalf of a customer to locate a stolen device.
Wait lists grow
There may have been pent-up demand for an iPhone with a larger screen, which makes keyboard use easier and provides a better experience watching video.
Apple said it received a record four million first-day preorders of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, meaning many customers will have to wait until October for their new phones.
Most Canadian carriers are offering the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 at $265 for the 16 GB model, $375 for the 64 GB model and $484 for the 128 GB model with a two-year contract. The smaller models are $749, $859 and $969, respectively, with no contract.
The carriers are offering the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus at $375 for the 16 GB model, $485 for the 64 GB model and $594 for the 128 GB model with a two-year contract. The larger phones are $859, $969 and $1,079 respectively with no contract.
Levy said Apple's launch will also have a positive effect on the rest of the industry.
"It's at the centre of a very large ecosystem of other companies," he said. "They almost hang off the Apple brand. We are seeing this very large economy building up around Apple technology hardware [and] software services … it benefits all these other companies."
Lineups around the world
Gadget lovers, entrepreneurs and early adapters flocked to Apple stores in New York, San Francisco and other cities around the world.
At the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York, the line of would-be buyers stretched for more than 10 blocks. Apple employees led them in a New Year's Eve-style countdown to herald the store's opening at 8 a.m. local time and high-fived customers as they entered the glass cube leading to the underground store.
Paul Terrebonne, a 26-year-old cook who had preordered his space-grey iPhone 6, said the size of the new devices had been enough to lure him back to Apple from his previous phone, a Motorola Moto X.
"It's all about screen size, plus I missed the iPhone's camera," he said, adding that he had shunned the iPhone 6 Plus because it was "a bit too big."
The launch attracted buyers from farther afield. Flavio Gondim, a 40-year-old Brazilian public sector employee, said he was buying an iPhone 6 in New York because "back home these are, maybe, 50 per cent more expensive."
In Asia, many who lined up to buy the new phones in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia said they planned to resell the devices in China, where regulatory hurdles are holding up the new phones' debut.