Apple's ultra expensive iPhone X draws crowds as in store sales begin

TORONTO _ A decade after Apple launched its original smartphone, the crowds were back at its stores Friday as the ultra-expensive iPhone X hit the market after months of anticipation.

From Vancouver’s Pacific Centre to Toronto’s Eaton Centre, consumers lined up eager to pay between $1,350 or $1,570 before carrier discounts for the tech giant’s latest smartphone offering a lush screen and facial recognition technology.

By comparison, the iPhone 8 that’s been available since September is listed at $950 or $1,170 depending on memory.

Apple Canada said it put on extra staff at its stores to handle the crowds waiting for the launch of sales at 8:00 a.m. sharp local time.

The company didn’t disclose how many devices it expects to have available on the first day, although each store has some of the newest Apple smartphones available for walk-up customers.

In addition, customers who pre-ordered the phone early enough through Apple will be given time slots for picking up their device. The device will be available through other retailers and wireless network carriers.

Even with the iPhone X’s delayed release, Apple is still struggling to catch up.

Apple is now giving delivery times of five to six weeks for those ordering in advance online. Most analysts are predicting Apple won’t be able to catch up with demand until early next year.

They say Apple’s suppliers haven’t been able to manufacture the iPhone X quickly enough due to advanced components such as its new screen and facial recognition technology.

However, CEO Tim Cook said on a conference call with analysts Thursday that Apple is increasing its iPhone X production capacity and expects the coming year-end holiday season to be “our biggest quarter ever.”

Apple shipped 46.7 million iPhones during the three months ended Sept. 30, according to its fiscal fourth-quarter report released Thursday.

That was down from the comparable period two years earlier, when Apple shipped 48 million iPhones, but up from 45.5 million at the same time last year after the iPhone 7 came out.

Apple shares hit an all-time high Friday, rising $5.02, or 2.9 per cent, to US$173.07 at mid-day.