Apple iPhone 5 goes on sale worldwide

Over a thousand queue outside Covent Garden store

The iPhone 5 hit shelves across the world this morning and, as with previous Apple launches, hundreds gathered down at the flagship store in Covent Garden to welcome in the latest iDevice

Apple store staffers clad in blue shirts formed a human corridor outside the front doors, cheering and high-fiving the faithful - some of whom had been queuing up for over a week.

Eager customers queue for the iPhone 5

First in line were 22-year-old Ryan Williams (below right) and 19-year-old Peter King (below left). The pair arrived at the store last Thursday and set up camp to get their hands on the first iPhone 5 - albeit for a slightly different reason.

Peter King and Ryan Williams

Ryan and Peter were using the hype surrounding the launch - and the first handset itself - to raise funds for charity. They auctioned off the first iPhone 5 sold in the UK to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The final bid came in at £1,070.

"The whole experience has just been crazy, and we're using the coverage to really promote something," Ryan told T3 from his place at the front of the line.

Ryan gets the first iPhone 5

"I'm running on so much adrenaline at the moment, I can barely remember who I am."

Both Ryan and Peter have had their lives affected by cancer - Peter lost his mother three years ago to the disease and a close friend of Ryan's has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

"Since my mum died, I've been trying to do lots for charity, but never, ever, on this scale," said Peter.

Ryan and Peter both come from Kent, but other Apple fans travelled significantly further to be a part of the experience.

Vyacheslav Alexander and Mareius Abranamsen

Vyacheslav Alexander, 28 (above left), and Mareius Abranamsen, 20 (above right), arrived in London from Russia and Norway respectively - meeting each other in the queue and bonding over the camaraderie that seems to develop among the Apple faithful.

"I've never done this before, but would absolutely do it again," said Mareius. And when T3 asked if he'd ever consider another phone, switching to a Nokia perhaps? Or a fancy new Samsung Galaxy S3? The answer was unequivocal: "No, never."

"The quality, design and style are all things I love about the iPhone and more than that, it's a comfort thing - I've been using it for a while and all my apps, music and videos are here," added Vyacheslav.

Customers queue for the iPhone 5

Such is the appeal of Apple's product - even though the new iPhone has taken its fair share of criticism since it was unveiled in San Francisco last week.

After taking heat for the lack of NFC, Apple Maps for iOS 6 has been giving some particularly interesting results and drawing more than a few negative comments.

That hasn't stopped Cupertino clocking up 2 million pre-orders in 24 hours or dampened support for the device here in London. Even network operator O2 got in on the act by staging an iPhone 5 queue on a walkway suspended 52 meters above the O2 arena.

O2 iPhone 5 launch

“There are millions of O2 customers wanting to get their hands on the new iPhone 5. We wanted to make the experience an even more memorable one by selling it at one of London’s most famous landmarks," said Nick Thomas, a spokesperson for O2.

For those still on the fence regarding the new handset, check out our in-depth iPhone 5 review for all the info. But be warned, buying the iPhone 5 outright is quite a hit - the 16GB model will set you back £529, with the 32GB and 64GB models costing £599 and £699 respectively.

What it s all about

For the statisticians among you, a 63336 exit poll has already suggested this queue is the biggest in UK retail history with around 1,297 people taking part. That beats Apple's own iPhone 4S launch 11 months ago - which only pulled in 778 people.

When the crowd were asked by 63336 researchers what was stopping them moving over to Android and buying the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Sony Xperia T or HTC One X, the answers were varied.

According to the results, 22 per cent said the hardware was stopping them moving to Android, 34 per cent said the software, 13 per cent said the quality of the App Store, 14 per cent said they've now invested too much in iOS apps, and 17 per cent said they have other products - such as AirPlay - that work only with Apple products.

Do you have your own Apple queue experience? Let us know in the comments box below.