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Apple’s flagship Shanghai store buzzes as iPhone 15 goes on sale

People line up while waiting at an Apple Store as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China, in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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SHANGHAI/BEIJING, (Reuters) – Over a hundred customers queued inside Apple’s flagship store in the Chinese financial hub of Shanghai on Friday, waiting to pick up their iPhone 15 orders on the first day of in-store availability.

How Apple’s latest iPhone sells in China is under close scrutiny by fans and market watchers alike, after widening curbs on iPhone use by government staff and the release of a high-end rival from domestic manufacturer Huawei (HWT.UL) sparked concern about demand for the device in its third-largest market.

But the strength of pre-orders in the world’s second-largest economy, which began last Friday, has eased worries, with delivery times pushed into November and the premium iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max selling out in just one minute on Alibaba’s Tmall e-commerce site.

Local media reported the queue at the store on Shanghai’s East Nanjing road shopping belt started forming at 5 a.m. (1000 GMT).

Among those at the store was social media influencer Zhang Ming, 25, who said she wanted to try out the iPhone 15 after being unsuccessful in pre-ordering online.

“I always like to look (at the new devices). When I buy Apple products I only look at the colour. If I like the colour I will buy it,” she said.

The iPhone 15 includes a new titanium shell, a faster chip and improved videogame-playing abilities. Apple also surprised by not raising prices, reflecting the global smartphone slump.

But some customers at the store lamented the lack of significant upgrades from the previous model. Real estate worker Wang Puyu, 29, said he was only purchasing a new model because he had promised to give his iPhone 14 to his nephew.

“I normally upgrade every year. But this year, I am not very satisfied.”