S'poreans take time off from work to queue for iPhone 5

Apple fans in Singapore took the day off on Friday just to queue up for the iPhone 5.

Long lines snaked from retail outlets of Apple resellers and Singapore’s three telcos as people waited to be among the first in eight countries outside of the United States to get their hands on the latest version of the popular smartphone.

26-year-old Mohd Rejab, who got his iPhone 5 around 11am on Friday, said he got up early and took a half-day off to start queuing at Sun Plaza’s M1 outlet at 8am.

He faced a small hiccup at first but eventually got his prize.

“After queuing for about 90 minutes, they told us that we couldn’t get our phones because there’s some problem going on with the M1 system,” the part-time rider told Yahoo! Singapore. The 100-odd people in the queue were then asked to go to other outlets at Northpoint or Sembawang Shopping Centre.

“I went to Sembawang Shopping Centre and got my phone quickly in about 30 minutes. I’m really excited about my new phone because I’ve been waiting for over a year for the iPhone and my contract expired more than a year ago,” Rejab added.

Lee, a 37-year-old quality engineer said, “I specially took leave to get the iPhone 5 this morning, but I’ll also be going out with my kids later in the day.”

“For me, it’s a reasonable upgrade because I have a high-end plan. It’s not very expensive for me to upgrade to the new iPhone, so I just got it.”

Sandy Hoi, 45, was in the line for more than three hours at Paragon to collect a pre-ordered iPhone 5 with her husband, who is an Apple fan.

“He’s been at all the previous iPhone launches in Singapore and it’s the same this time round. He’s been an Apple fan since the first generation iPhone came out,” Hoi added.

Despite getting confirmation that they will be placed in the priority queue, some customers were still asked to wait for a long time to get their phones.

Marketing manager Stephanie Chua, 29, said, “I called M1 before going down and the customer service person said that people on the priority letter will be place in the priority queue.”

“But when I arrived at the Change Alley outlet, I only noticed one queue. The staff there said that over 80 per cent of people in the queue have the priority letter. Exactly the same thing happened when I went to the Bugis outlet. I really don’t know what’s the point of M1 having a priority sign-up,” Chua added.

Some Singaporeans were seen joining the queue at Paragon, not knowing they could pre-order and were disappointed when they were informed that the stocks were running low, even for those who pre-ordered.

[Click here to see a photo slideshow of queues for the iPhone 5 around Singapore]

For others, getting their iPhone 5 has been nothing short of smooth and orderly.

23-year-old undergraduate Fitrina Lim said, “I got the phone in less than an hour because I had an appointment slot with SingTel, and also because I reach Marina Bay Sands earlier.”

“I reached at 9:20am and got to the sale counter by 10:15am,” she added.

Fairuz, 35, said he also took the day off from work at a gym where he works as a fitness instructor get the iPhone 5. He said he chose to go to distributors in heartlands instead of the main stores in town because he knew the stores at heartland estates would be “quieter”.

“My wife and I have high-end plans so we change phones quite often. We know from experience where to go to avoid queues and crowd,” he said.

iPhone 5 units have been selling out at a number of retailers in Singapore. Yahoo! Singapore understands that at around 12 noon on launch day, the 64 gigabyte version of the iPhone 5 was sold out at M1's Paragon outlet.

SingTel said that demand for the iPhone 5 had exceeded previous offerings from Apple, partly because the new phones could work on 4G networks that offered much faster data speeds, Reuters reported.

Apple premium reseller EpiCentre also sold out all its non-contracted iPhone 5 units within two hours islandwide.

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