The release of a new iPhone has become an annual pilgrimage for the Apple faithful, with one hallowed day reserved each year.
In Wollongong, there was no shortage of techno-worshippers willing to suffer through a long and potentially uncomfortable night in an effort to get their hands on the latest wonderphone, the iPhone 5, which hit stores yesterday morning.
The latest iPhone features a bigger screen, faster processor, slimmed-down profile and the ability to suck down data faster than ever before via next-generation 4G networks.
Those specs have stirred fans into a frenzy, with reports of diehard Apple lovers arriving as early as midnight Thursday to camp out outside Telstra’s Wollongong Central store, and by 7.30am there were more than 70 people in a queue that stretched across Crown St Mall.
Standing at the head of that queue, 28-year-old paramedic Philip Van Heerden and 21-year-old mechanic Jamie Andrews said they had arrived at 4AM, well stocked with food, snacks and blankets.
Mr Van Heerden said he was keen to get his hands on his third iPhone, having owned the previous two generations of the device, while Mr Andrews admitted he was more interested in the bragging rights that come along with owning the latest and greatest smartphone.
‘‘I just want to rub it in my friend’s face,’’ he laughed.
Five years after the release of the original iPhone, the annual launch of an updated model has become a marketing event for telcos, with Telstra staff in Wollongong handing out goodies to those waiting in line before literally rolling out the red carpet as the store opened at 8AM.
Elsewhere in the city, stores for Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile were relatively quiet, with customers likely turned off by the fact that all three are yet to launch next-generation 4G mobile networks to match the capabilities of the iPhone 5.
Telstra is the only Australian network to offer 4G coverage that takes in selected parts of the Illawarra, along with much of metropolitan Sydney.