Doors opened at 8 a.m. local time Friday in the U.S. and eight other countries -- and eager fans turned out to get their hands on the new phone.
That first-day total was double the number of iPhone 4S pre-orders the company took last year, and an initial Friday shipping date was quickly pushed back.
People who pre-order the phone now, or did so in the past few days, could be waiting more than three weeks for their phones to ship.
For some dedicated fans, that was just too long to wait. And so they lined up outside Apple stores for their chance to snag the device on Friday.
Along a stretch of sidewalk in Old Town Pasadena, fans camped out -- some for several days -- to stake their place in line.
About 150 people were in line Friday morning with their tents, chairs and sleeping bags.
One man, who was the fifth person in line, sprung for all the creature comforts of home, setting up a table with flowers and a lamp, chairs and even a rug.
"At least your guaranteed to have one, you know, because the shipping dates have been pushed back I think like four or five weeks," he said.
Another man told KTLA that he had been camped out since Tuesday night. He also waited in line for the iPhone 4S last year.
"Im just a great apple fan, so I'm very loyal to Apple," Francisco Narango said. "I think the iPhone 5 is going to be great."
It was a scene played out all around the world as Apple fans waited for Thursday to turn into Friday.
Aside from the U.S., the iPhone5 went on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK.
Throngs of shoppers lined up outside Apple stores in Sydney, Tokyo, London, Paris and Munich, among other cities.
Dozens had been waiting outside Apple's flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue since Monday.
The iPhone 5 has a bigger screen, slimmer frame, faster processor and, for the first time, 4G wireless connections.
There have been some grunts in the tech world about the new device, mainly about Apple installing its own mapping service and taking away Google's.
But the devoted fans who lined up to get their new phones on Friday didn't seem to be deterred.
Aside from the Apple store, other stores will carry the iPhone 5 on Friday. They include AT&T, Sprint and Verizon stores, as well as select Best Buy, RadioShack, Target and Walmart locations.
The iPhone 5 will roll out to 22 more countries on September 28.