Overnight queues for new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, high demand for black versions of handsets

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Technology fans start lining up outside Apple stores in Sydney and Tokyo one day ahead of the iPhone 7 launch. But Apple has warned that supplies of some model options are already running short.
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People queueing for the sale of iPhone 7 at Ion Orchard on Sept 16, 2016. ST PHOTO: DON CHI
People queueing for the sale of iPhone 7 at Ion Orchard on Sept 16, 2016. ST PHOTO: DON CHI
People queueing for the sale of iPhone 7 at Ion Orchard on Sept 16, 2016. ST PHOTO: DON CHI
People queueing for the sale of iPhone 7 at Ion Orchard on Sept 16, 2016. ST PHOTO: DON CHI
iPhone 7 queue outside epicentre in Ion Orchard before sales started at 9am.
People queueing overnight for the sale of iPhone 7 at Ion Orchard on Sept 15, 2016. ST PHOTO: DON CHI

SINGAPORE - Apple fans were out in droves queueing for the new iPhone 7 and the larger iPhone 7 Plus which were launched on Friday (Sept 16), with the black versions of the handsets being hot picks.

Student Sophia Tran, 25, from the Nanyang Institute of Management, was the first person in the queue at Courts Orchard at 1pm on Thursday.

She together with nine other students from the same school had queued for 19 hours, armed with snacks and portable chargers. All of them were in line to buy iPhones for their friend, who wanted to send them to his family in Vietnam.

"We only left the line if we wanted to go to the toilet," said Ms Tran. "It's a nice feeling to be the first person to get it."

Mr Keith Heah, 58, arrived only five minutes before the shop opened at 8am on Friday. He was hoping to get an iPhone 7 Plus in black.

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"Normally, this outlet is not very crowded from what I've seen in previous years (when the iPhone launched)," said Mr Heah, a retiree, who queues up for the iPhone every year.

As of 8am, most of the 30 people in line were foreigners.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 starts from $1,048, while the larger 5.5-inch 7 Plus retails from $1,248. They were launched by iPhone maker Apple last Thursday (Sept 8, Singapore time).

The same size as last year's iPhones, the new handsets are now dust- and water-resistant and use the faster A10 Fusion processor. The iPhone 7 Plus has dual cameras for optical zoom.

But it is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack in the new phones that has drawn the most attention. In its place is Apple's proprietary Lightning port for audio output. However, many customers seemed unfazed by the absence of the handphone jack.

"When I walked past, I saw people queueing (so) I decided to join in," said Mr Akshay Patel, 21, who was with a friend. The two, who are from India and in Singapore for a holiday, had their eye on the iPhone 7 Plus in black.

Administrator Philip Lim, 53, was walking past Courts' store when he saw the posters and decided to join the queue.

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"It opens at 8am so I won't be late for work," said Mr Lim, who wanted to get the iPhone 7 Plus in black.

"But it's okay (if) there's no jet black iPhone. It's just a phone - you can put a cover on it."

Over at 313@Somerset, a number of customers had also started queueing overnight at retailer EpiCentre. By 9am on Friday, there were about 300 in the queue, including many foreigners.

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Second in line was Madam Irene Tan, 60. The housewife, who had queued since Thursday at 5pm, wanted to get the iPhone 7 Plus in black for her son.

"My son is working, so I'm queueing for him," said Madam Tan, adding that she came prepared with drinks and bread for the long wait.

Her son, construction manager Louis Tan, 40, said he wanted to buy the iPhone for a foreign customer. He has no plans to get the new phone for himself yet due to concerns over possible issues with early models.

"I might wait and see, and buy later. I've always had a good impression of the iPhone's camera, so I may have use for the new phone's water resistance feature," he said.

Over at Ion Orchard's EpiCentre store, queues began forming at 10pm on Thursday, although some customers said they had come even earlier at around 6pm.

One such shopper was Mr Ferdinand Soffian, 27, an entrepreneur from Indonesia who is in Singapore for a vacation.

He had wanted the iPhone 7 Plus in jet black, black or rose gold, but had to settle for the gold version instead. "I will probably sell the phone later to get the phone in the colour I want," he said, adding that he did not mind the lack of a headphone jack in the new iPhone.

At 7.30am on Friday, about 100 were in the queue at Ion Orchard.

But many telco customers are not expected to get their new iPhones on Friday. The three local telcos - Singtel, StarHub and M1 - notified customers on Thursday that there would be a delay in getting their new iPhones.

This was due to to Apple being hit by global supply delays for the new phones, especially for the jet black model.

Annoyed customers took to the telcos' Facebook pages and online forums like Hardwarezone to complain about the delay.

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