iPhone 6s Hits Stores Amid Apple Growth Questions

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/ Source: CNBC.com
By Arjun Kharpal, CNBC

Scenes of fans camped outside some of the world's biggest Apple stores can only mean one thing –- a new product from the U.S. tech giant.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus go on sale Friday as fans line up to get their hands on the latest handset while investors wait to see whether Apple's flagship product still has legs.

Earlier this month, Apple said the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were "on pace to beat last year's 10 million unit first-weekend record" in terms of sales, when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus went on sale in 2014. But the Cupertino, CA-based tech giant didn't crack out the exact figures it is expecting.

Analysts at FBR Capital Markets noted that there will only be two days of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sales included in the September quarter which closes on Saturday, versus nine days in the previous year. But in the December quarter, the research firm said that Apple is on "a trajectory to exceed Herculean-like YOY (year-on-year) iPhone 6 comps in the December quarter with our estimates now 77 million units (versus our prior 74 million), likely alleviating lingering bear chatter."

‘Desperate’ for an iPhone

Regardless of the focus of investors, fans are waiting eagerly for the new phones to make sure they can get the newest colors before the stocks go. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be available in four colors and will be available in 12 countries including the U.S., U.K. and China starting from Friday.

Sam Sheikh had been queuing at a London Apple store since Monday at 9PM local time. He was the first in line.

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"I'm a big Apple fan and I wanted to have the rose gold model which I'm desperate for and I heard they have very limited stock," Sheikh told CNBC, adding that he was also first in line for the iPhone 6 last year.

But Jesse Green, the second person in line who met Sheikh last year, said that the atmosphere "hasn't been as good" as last year, due to people pre-ordering online.

Another Apple fan, Thien Nguyen, had been queuing up outside the Covent Garden Apple store in the heart of London since Thursday evening for over 12 hours, waiting to buy the phone for his mom's birthday.

"I mean, it does get boring but I came by myself so I was forced into talking to other people to kill time. I've made a few friends here," Nguyen told CNBC.

3D touch, camera

Earlier this month, Apple took the wraps off the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with incremental upgrades like the "s" models usual have. One of the features generating the most buzz is the so-called "3D Touch", which allows users to carry out different functions depending on how much pressure they put on the screen. Apple has used a new chip in the phone, and unveiled an improved camera.

Of course, Apple is not the only smartphone maker to have released new products in the last few months. Huawei and Samsung have both come to market with flagship premium offerings. But analysts said the "disappointing" products from other vendors could give Apple an advantage.

"A lot of people haven't switched to the Apple iPhone 6 this time, so a 6s provides an opportunity for them to do that. Again, you look at what Samsung has done and it's been a bit disappointing I feel in terms of the product. So people might just spring for the Apple iPhone 6s" Clement Teo, senior analyst at Forrester, told CNBC in an interview on Friday.

-- Additional reporting by CNBC's Phil Han