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iPhone fans snap up new handsets

One of the first people to get his hands on the new iPhone this morning felt "on top of the world" and said he wanted to celebrate by taking a selfie.

Jameel Ahmed, 26, and his friend Sam Sheikh, 27, originally from India and now living in London, were the first two technology fans through the doors of the Apple store in Covent Garden to pick up the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets.

Leaving with his purchase, Mr Ahmed said he was "really excited", adding: "I'd like to open it and take my selfie."

Hundreds of people queued outside the store and took part in a 10-second countdown before the doors opened at 8am and cheering fans were escorted in by staff.

The US company announced the new devices to much fanfare at a highly anticipated event in California last week.

Some fans were so keen to get their hands on the new iPhones they began camping outside the Apple store in Regent Street, London, on Monday.

Around 30 or so people set up camp outside the store yesterday, with tents, tables and chairs and even bottles of wine bearing testimony to their dedication.

Mr Ahmed said: "It's a challenge with my friends that I'll have the iPhone first."

Mr Sheikh said he was glad his pursuit of a new iPhone was more successful than his last attempt, when he queued for almost seven nights and felt like a "loser". He said he was feeling "very excited, very content, very successful". On Monday Apple announced a record number of first day pre-orders of the two handsets, with more than four million in the first 24 hours.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are available in 10 countries from today, including the UK, the US, Australia and Singapore, and a further 20 next Friday.

Both handsets will be available in new sizes for the first time, with the iPhone 6 offering a 4.7in screen, while the 6 Plus boasts the biggest screen Apple has ever produced for a smartphone at 5.5in.

Network operator EE said it will ensure that customers who pre-ordered new handsets through Phones 4u, which went into administration on Sunday, would still be able to get them in its stores.

A spokesman said: "All across the country we have set aside iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets, enough for Phones 4u customers who pre-ordered iPhones on EE through Phones 4u.

"If they go into EE stores and show their pre-order receipts they will be able to claim one of the devices."

Even though the packed queue outside the Apple store in Covent Garden was almost entirely male, research has found women check their phones more often than men.

They may not have risen early to join the queue, but a survey by telecoms company Daisy looking at how people engage with mobile technology found there is a gender divide with women proving to be more avid smartphone users than men.

The survey of 2,000 people - 750 women and 1,250 men - found 18% of women check their phones at least once every hour as opposed to 13% of men.

Calling into the Regent Street store to pick up new phones were celebrities including Mamma Mia! star Dominic Cooper, Bronson actor Tom Hardy, his fiancee, actress Charlotte Riley, and Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman.

Meanwhile, tech experts said Apple is making its rivals "continually up their game".

Stuart Miles, founder of gadget website Pocket-lint, said: "U ltimately the two new iPhones will be very successful because while Apple doesn't deliver new tech it delivers it in such a way that consumers want without getting bogged down with tech specs.

"Apple's attention to detail has a huge knock-on effect in making other manufacturers continually up their game.

"You only have to look at brands like Nokia and BlackBerry to see what happens if they don't."

David Phelan, a tech writer at the Covent Garden store this morning, said Apple "make a real event of it".

"You get quite caught up in the moment of it," he said.

Mr Phelan said the company is "amazing" at creating hype, saying it is "unbeaten" in that respect.

In terms of the devices' bigger screens, he said Samsung "got there way before anyone else", adding that Apple have gone for a bigger screen as they are recognising what people want.

Mr Phelan said the device with the bigger screen - the iPhone 6 Plus - is likely to do well in Asia where he said people like to use "phablets" - phone/tablet hybrids.

Speculating on how Samsung will respond, he said they might come up with an even bigger screen, adding: "They're not one to be beaten for long."

Matt Hill, from gadget website T3, said that while the two new phones "are far better looking in person than images do justice", he does not understand the "phablet obsession, as huge phones are cumbersome".

But he said both phones are "extremely thin and light".

Duncan Bell, managing editor at T3, said Apple's latest offering will see them "continue to eat into the business market".

He said he would expect iPhone sales to "remain pretty impressive" and to narrowly go up overall, compared to the launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c.

"It'll be interesting to see which size does better - my money's on the 6, which is more for existing Apple users, rather than the 6 Plus, which seems to be calculated to attract Android users, who are already used to using whopping great handsets.

"I don't think Samsung needs to respond as such - Apple is following its lead, not vice versa. The Korean giant will continue to update its more numerous existing lines, at a more rapid rate than Apple does.

"So it'll continue to sell more handsets overall, but less profitably. Smaller manufacturers of large Android handsets such as HTC, however, have serious reason to worry.

"The new iPhones should also see Apple continue to eat into the business market as BlackBerry continues to fade out."

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