TOKYO (AFP) - Buyers from China, deprived of the latest iPhone launch at home, were among the first in line on Friday in Japan to grab the "6" and its new large-screen cousin as Apple hit back at rivals.
A thriving secondary market was emerging hours after the first phones left stores, with mainland China having been left out of the initial global rollout. Dealers in Hong Kong said they were prepared to offer a hefty premium.
"If we are talking about the 128 gigabyte version we would buy it for as much as HK$18,000 (S$2,946)," said Gary Yiu, the manager of the iGeneration phone reseller store.
That's more than double the price of the top-of-the-range iPhone 6 Plus.
"I have around 200 pre-orders with 60 to 70 per cent of these from mainland Chinese customers," Yiu told AFP, adding that he had dispatched 10 members of staff to snap up as many handsets as they could.
Yiu said the golden version of the 128 gigabyte iPhone 6-Plus was the most sought after model, adding he could resell it for over HK$20,000.
"There will be very little stock for this model, so a lot of people will be going for it," he said.
In Japan, where the iPhone was being sold without a SIM lock on launch day for the first time, dozens of Chinese buyers had queued outside Tokyo's Apple stores.
"We can now buy a SIM-lock free iPhone for the same price as one locked on a local Japanese career," said Lin Wenming, an IT engineer who works in Japan.
Several of the Chinese waiting in line spoke neither Japanese nor English. Some of those who did indicated they had travelled from China specially for the launch.
In Sydney, the first place in the world to get the phone, some buyers had also travelled a long way. David Rahimi, the first to emerge from the glass doors of the flagship store, said he was "super excited" to pick up the new model.
Rahimi and girlfriend Jasmine Juan, who are from California, had been outside the store from 5.00 am local time, just three hours before the store opened because they had pre-ordered.
But others, like South Korean Jin Sik Kim, had spent days in front of the store before the doors opened, revealing scores of blue T-shirt wearing Apple employees ready to help.
Kim, who had travelled from Seoul specifically to buy the phone, told AFP he had been waiting since Sunday, sleeping out and eating at the nearby McDonalds. "It's a very unique phone," said Kim who was queueing with six friends and wanting to buy both models. "It's bigger than the previous model."
Both new models have increased screen sizes in what some see as the company catching up to a "phablet" trend combining features of smartphones and tablets.
The iPhone 6 has a screen of 4.7 inches and the 6-Plus is 5.5 inches, reflecting consumers' apparent preference for bigger displays, despite Apple's earlier vow to stick with the traditional size.
Apple's main rival Samsung has long had a range of larger handsets and is due to soon release a new Galaxy Note 4 "phablet."
The California tech giant has said more than four million pre-orders were received in the 24 hours after the sale of the new devices was announced. Buyers in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Britain will be able to pick up their phones on Friday.
Some 20 more countries will get the new iPhone on Sept 26.