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Yet again, Apple's iPhone attracts morning lines around the world

June 24, 2010 | 11:13 am
Iphonelines
iPhone fans wait in line at the Apple store in Rancho Cucamonga. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

An hour before the Apple store at The Grove in Los Angeles opened to begin selling the new fourth-generation iPhone, Randy Cruz was the first in line. It was 7 a.m. and to get that spot, she only had to arrive a few hours early -- at 10 p.m. the night before.

"I haven't slept yet," she said. "I got off after working two jobs, and here I am. I have to go back to work at 9:30 this morning."

Cruz was among thousands of Apple loyalists who waited in lines around the world in what has become a tradition for the company's product launches. Observers around the country reported sold-out stores, with lines two or three times the length they were for previous iPhone launches.

Last week, Apple sold 600,000 phones over the Internet before halting orders because of concerns that demand for the new phone could outstrip supply. Some analysts are projecting that the company will have sold up to 1 million of the phones by the end of its first day in stores. That compares to 270,000 sold on the first day for the original iPhone in 2007.

The phone went on sale Thursday in the U.S., Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and will expand to 88 countries by September.

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co., predicted that Apple would break its own record and sell 9.5 million phones during the June quarter.

The new iPhone boasts a screen with four times the resolution of the previous-generation phone, as well as a sleeker glass-and-metal design and a high-resolution camera that can be used for video calling -- a feature Apple has dubbed "FaceTime."

Some prospective customers waited in line even without the assurance that there would be a phone for them when they finally got inside.

Dennis Wade of Hollywood was first in the line of "standby" customers. Wade and his friends showed up at 9:30 Wednesday night.

"I've been here for about 12 hours, so I'm pretty certain that the first 10 people are going to get one."

As it turned out, Wade and friends were rewarded for their troubles when they found that phones were available. 

Update, 2:45 p.m.: In some non-scientific tests performed on a new iPhone 4 and an iPhone 3GS, it appeared that both of the phones lost 3G signal bars when they were handled without a case.  The signal bars quickly reappeared when the phones were put on a table.  Notably, there was no similar signal loss when the phones were using the EDGE network after 3G functionality was disabled.  Nor was the 3G signal loss as pronounced when the phones were taken outside.

Update, 12:38 p.m.:  A number of reports are emerging that the phone loses cellular signal strength when it is gripped a certain way -- in some cases appearing to sever its 3G connection entirely simply from being held in the user's hand.  Gizmodo has created a lengthy log of YouTube videos showing the phenomenon.  Apple has not yet returned a request for comment.

-- Michelle Maltais and David Sarno

More iPad and iPhone4 coverage.

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