Apple will get a taste of whether upgraded features on the new iPhone 11 are enough to lure shoppers to retail stores around the world as the new smartphones officially hit shelves Friday.
At the Apple flagship store on Regent Street, a handful of diehard iPhone fans started waiting in line to purchase the new smartphones Thursday evening. As of 6 a.m. Friday, roughly 40 customers were waiting for the doors to open. The number started rising as Apple opened its doors.
There were also lines outside of Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York on Friday morning. The store officially reopens at 8 a.m. ET after more than two years of renovations. CEO Tim Cook greeted the crowd as he made his way inside.
Among the features customers were most excited about: the triple-camera system on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
"Instead of buying a new camera, I prefer to upgrade my phone," said Tarif Karanfil, who started waiting in line around 6am Friday morning to upgrade from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Images on Twitter showed crowds outside of Apple's stores in Singapore, Sydney and Berlin, among other cities.
Apple unveiled the new lineup iPhones earlier this month, touting the upgraded cameras, longer battery life, more durable screens and faster processors. Some analysts have pointed to strong demand in pre-orders for the new smartphones, especially the lowest-price $699 iPhone 11, as a positive sign for Apple heading into the crucial holiday quarter.
J.P. Morgan said Friday that it expected the iPhone 11 to be the largest driver of iPhone shipments over the next year. The investment bank also maintained its iPhone shipment forecast for 184 million units in 2019, with 195 million shipments of the smartphone expected in 2020.
Leading Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this week the iPhone 11 appears to be attractive to buyers in China, a belief echoed by Chinese e-commerce firm Fenqile in an interview with CNBC. Strong demand for the new iPhones from Chinese consumers would be a positive sign for Apple, which has struggled to boost sales in the market in the past few quarters.
Some analysts expected demand for the iPhone 11 series would be more muted as consumers hold out for a 5G iPhone, which is expected to be released next year.
Global smartphones sales declined 2% in the second quarter, according to research from IDC, as consumers wait longer to buy new devices. Samsung was the biggest smartphone seller in the world as the second quarter, followed by Huawei then Apple.
- CNBC's Chloe Taylor and Todd Haselton contributed to this report.