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Customers line up as iPhone 5 hits stores

About 20 people line up outside the AT&T store in DeKalb to pick up the new iPhone 5 released Friday.
About 20 people line up outside the AT&T store in DeKalb to pick up the new iPhone 5 released Friday.

DeKALB – Leon Johnson didn’t want to wait a few weeks to scoop up the new Apple iPhone 5 released Friday.

He showed up to the AT&T store on Sycamore Road around 4:45 a.m. to make sure he was first in a line of about 20 people waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m.

“This weather’s perfect,” he said while standing under an awning to stay dry during the rain.

Johnson, a graduate student at Northern Illinois University from Chicago, said he looked forward to the phone’s larger screen and Maps application, which is similar to a GPS.

He also looked forward to using the FaceTime application, which allows users to talk through video without a wireless Internet connection.

For Apple, the iPhone introduction is the biggest revenue driver of the year. Analysts expect the company to sell millions of phones in the first few days, and ship as many as 10 million by the end of September.

Apple’s stock surpassed the $700 level for the first time earlier this week as excitement for the launch mounted. Although Johnson was in line at 4:45 a.m., in London, one line started forming a week early.

Other features of the device include a faster wireless Internet connection and redesigned earbud headphones. Siri, a voice-automated phone and Internet navigator that was launched with iPhone 4S, now comes with the ability to post to social media sites and speaks more languages.

The phone also comes with an A6 chip, which increases the speed of the phone and conserves battery power.

Johnson was one of two people who picked up an iPhone at that store Friday because that was all that was in stock.

Manager Amanda Mears said AT&T stores can’t predict how many phones they’ll get whenever a product is released.

“It’s totally random,” she said. “I was pretty surprised. We should have gotten quite a few more.”

Mears said the store received 12 phones when the iPhone 4S was released in October. She said there’s always hype when a new iPhone is released. She said the store will order phones for those who couldn’t get one Friday, but they’d likely have to wait 14 to 21 business days before it arrives.

Josh Folkerts, an NIU graduate student from Glen Ellyn, said he never stood in line for an iPhone before because he usually back orders or pre-orders them. There was only a small window to order one ahead of time, starting at 2 a.m. the previous Friday, and Folkerts said he slept through his alarm.

He was second in line at the AT&T store to buy one of the store’s few phones.

Folkerts said he looked forward to using the panoramic iSight camera that can shoot up to 240 degrees in one motion.

“I go hiking a lot,” he said. “That will be cool for horizon shots and things like that.”

Tom Votik, a senior at NIU from Skokie, tried his luck at Best Buy after striking out at the AT&T store. He hoped to get a phone Friday and be among the first to post reviews and tutorials on how to customize it on YouTube.

“The bigger screen and the faster speeds, that’s the big difference” from the older version, he said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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