With coffee in hand, pajamas still on and eyes half shut as the sun rose Friday, at least a few hundred people were lined up outside cellphone stores like Verizon and AT&T early Friday morning to get their hands on the new iPhone 5S.
Penn State students Heather Erhard and Molly Anderson, both of the Philadelphia area, said they waited in line at the Verizon store on North Atherton Street at least two hours before the doors opened at 8 a.m.
But they were hardly the first ones in line.
Both said they were trading in their iPhone 4 models for the new one.
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“I’ve had my old phone for over two years and deserve a new one,” Anderson said. “There’s a deal where we can trade in our old iPhone and get $100 off the new one.”
Anderson, whose birthday is in May, added that it’s a belated gift to herself.
Erhard, a junior, said she was also in need of a phone upgrade, as she wanted to continue on the Apple product path.
This was both their first time waiting in line for a newly released item and something they’re not sure they’d do again.
“We were anxious to get our hands on it,” Anderson said. “I’m not sure I’d do it again just because it’s cold out and too early to wake up, but it will be worth it once we get our new phones.”
One at a time, customers were allowed to enter the Verizon store.
“We’re all in the same boat waiting for one thing,” Erhard said. “The process has been smooth, the people have been nice, and I think I’m going to be really happy with the phone.”
At the AT&T store, down the road from Verizon also on North Atherton, some said they were waiting in line since midnight, while people lined up at Verizon began filling in the sidewalk as early as 4 a.m.
For those waiting outside the Verizon store, a Starbucks nearby was key to keeping alert in the early morning wait.
“I had a $5 Starbucks gift card that I was able to use and to help keep me motivated this morning,” Anderson said as she sipped her coffee.
Verizon District Manager Craig McCann said he didn’t expect a crowd, but he said the store was ready.
“We’re taking names and taking down their orders, so it’s a smooth and organized process,” McCann said. “There was no line last time the new iPhone came out because Apple allowed people to preorder it. This year there was no pre-order on the 5S.”
He said business Friday morning drastically increased and added that the biggest reason why people were getting the iPhone was the new colors.
“Apple came out with new colors for their phones, and people have been asking us all morning what colors we had in stock,” McCann said. “That’s probably been our most popular request.”
Some shoppers said numerous others were looking for the gold iPhone. When those people found out the North Atherton Street Verizon store had no more left, they exited the line.
“That’s fine. Better chance for me to get in quicker,” said T.J. Stevenson.
Stevenson, a junior at Penn State, said he checked out the local cellphone provider stores the night before to check out the length of the lines so he could wait with others to get a new phone.
“I just wanted to scope out my best chances of getting a good spot in line,” Stevenson said. “I think I heard if we didn’t get it today, there is a back-order until next month.”
Stevenson pulled out his Droid Bionic, which had a cracked screen. He said he decided to make the switch from Android to Apple because he’s happy with the other Apple products he’s used.
Others said Apple products are their best bet, even if they’re not tech savvy.
“I don’t like technology. I think if it weren’t for the need to keep up to date and in contact with people, I probably wouldn’t even be here, but I’ve never had a complaint with Apple products,” Anderson said. “I think it’s the best bet.”