Spirits were high Friday as shoppers crowded Apple stores across the country — some capping a week-long camp-out, some braving an autumn chill and all eager to get their hands on the new iPhone 5.
"I feel like a million bucks," Rigine Gomez told NBC 6 South Florida after waiting in line for his iPhone in South Beach, Fla.
"I felt like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant walking in there," Julian Diggs told NBC 5 Chicago after emerging from a Chicago Apple store with his own prize.
Diggs was the first customer there to snag a phone, after he earlier turned down a $500 bid for his spot in line from other Apple fans who didn't have the fortitude to camp out, as he had since Tuesday, NBC 5 Chicago reported.
That process is part of the fun, a woman who had staked out a spot outside the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York for eight days told NBC 4 New York.
"It's not about just the phone. It's about participating in an Apple tradition, the Apple tradition of camping out," she said.
She was one of many shoppers worldwide who had staked out their spots for days in lines snaking around stores, all to snag the iconic new smartphone.
Just outside Hartford, Conn., Jason Maloney credited his hammock with helping him get four hours of sleep Thursday night, NBC Connecticut reported.
He and thousands of others outside stores from New Haven to Silicon Valley had struggled to keep warm and comfortable as they counted the hours to Friday's launch. In South Beach, Apple employees had handed out umbrellas to shoppers braving rain.
Keeping warm wasn't as hard in the days-long line in Pasadena, Calif., where Martin Gijzemijter, visiting from the Netherlands, had made himself at home with the help of an armchair, a lamp and a table festooned with a vase of flowers, NBC 4 Southern California reported.
"Sleeping out here ain't no joke," said another man in line there, Salvador Zendejas. "I'm an Apple freak."
And while Diggs became the first to claim an iPhone in Chicago Friday after he turned down a $500 bid for his spot in line, the market for a spot in line was alive and well in Washington, D.C., where a pair of friends accepted over $300 for their spots, NBC 4 Washington reported.
Spots in line outside a Boca Raton, Fla., store were somewhat cheaper and could be had in exchange for supporting a charity, NBC 6 South Florida reported. Thanks to some members of the Florida Atlantic University chapter of fraternity of Delta Tau Delta, a $50 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation could buy an iPhone seeker a spot.
The smartphone went on sale in the U.S. and Canada Friday morning, hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later.
Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.
Among the first people in the world to get their hands on the new smartphone were those in Australia, due to the time difference — and NBC Bay Area reported that among them was none other than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Already in Australia to speak at a technology forum, Woz got his phone after securing the first spot in line outside an Apple store down under. He checked in on Foursquare saying, "In line for the first iPhone 5's in the world!" from an Apple store in Chermside.
In Hong Kong, the first Apple customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.
The iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than its predecessors, and it has a taller screen, faster processor and updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.
It has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is glitch prone. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.