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Apple fans rejoice as iPhone 5 goes on sale worldwide

A crowd of customers counts down to 8 a.m. at the Apple Store on 5th Ave. in New York City.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

Even though the atmosphere in lines around the world wasn't as exciting as in past years — in part thanks to sponsored human billboards and protesters — the moment the clock chimed 8 a.m. at Apple's retail stores around the world, cheers erupted. The iPhone 5 has arrived.

\"I'm as happy as I am tired,\" Hazem Sayed tells reporters.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

The first person in line at Apple's flagship store in New York City is Hazem Sayed, the developer behind Vibe, an app that lets its users broadcast anonymous messages to those nearby. He has spent well over a week sitting in front of the Apple Store on 5th Avenue and he does not regret a moment. "I'm as happy as I am tired," he tells reporters who crowd him as soon as he exits the store with his new iPhone 5 in hand.

When asked whether he even has the energy to use his new smartphone after the long wait, Sayed smiles. "It's love at first sight," he says. "I'll stay up all night."

\"The receipt is longer than the phone,\" Hazem Sayed remarks.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

Love at first sight isn't eternal though. Sayed says he would consider selling his new gadget for twice what he paid, meaning about $1600 total. "The receipt is longer than the phone," he remarks absentmindedly as he holds up a crumpled slip of paper next to the device. He bought a black 64GB AT&T version of the iPhone.

Members of the press crowd around the first individuals to exist the Apple Store with a new iPhone 5, giving them a celebrity treatment.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

Long after Sayed managed to escape the clutches of reporters, cheers continued erupting each time someone exited the Apple Store, with a new iPhone 5 in hand. The applause could be heard for blocks.

The iPhone 5 is the latest generation of Apple's popular smartphone. In appearance, it is similar to the iPhone 4S, its predecessor, though it has a 4-inch display (rather than a 3.5-inch display) and is a bit thinner. The iPhone 5 offers 4G LTE connectivity (meaning users will see faster data speeds), improved battery life, a faster processor, and a lighter body. 

A crowd waits to enter the Apple Store on 5th Ave in New York City.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

Out of the box, the new smartphone will run iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, which means that it will have a significantly improved version of Siri, a new app called Passbook (which will store boarding passes, discount cards, and more for users), and about 200 new features. 

Much to the dismay of many, the new operating system does not offer a Google-powered Maps app, but instead uses Apple's own creation (which is not earning much praise so far).

If you are looking to pick up a shiny new iPhone 5, keep in mind that Apple's retail locations aren't the only place to get it. You can order one through the Apple website (though shipping dates are several weeks out) or through individual carriers' websites or telesales lines. You can also go to AT&T, Verizon or Sprint retail stores as well as to Walmart, Target, Best Buy and RadioShack.

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