Newest iPhone connects with eager buyers

Locals of all ages lined up in front of Medford phone stores Friday morning to be first with Apple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 5S.

"I have a (iPhone) 3, so I'm hoping for a boost in speed," said Medford resident Laura Lund, who bought the 5S version at the AT&T store on Center Drive.

The new iPhone 5S features a first-of-its-kind, 64-bit processor that Apple calls the A7, an improved camera and a fingerprint scanner it calls Touch ID. In addition to the color choices offered in former iPhone 5s, gold is available.

Lund had hoped for the new gold color, but since demand outstripped the supply, she was willing to make a concession.

"They only have black left," she said. She said her old iPhone 3GS was the same color.

Lund, who said she arrived at about 8:15 a.m. Friday, was one of about seven people waiting outside before store representatives opened the doors and ushered customers in to activate the new devices.

More waited outside at AT&T's north Medford location, but for some the wait and limited availability were too much trouble.

"I've never waited in line before," James Henry of Medford said while waiting behind about 10 people at the AT&T store off Highway 62 and Delta Waters Road. "This is almost too long for me."

Like Lund, Henry was looking forward to a smartphone upgrade after holding out several years.

"I haven't had a new one in about four years," he said. "I have a 3GS."

Henry was looking forward to the boost in performance, but he gave up after an employee announced to the crowd that the store was sold out of the least expensive variety, the 16 gigabyte model retailing for $199 with a new contract.

It was Henry's day off.

"I just thought I'd pop in and see if I could get one," he said.

Although AT&T stores struggled with demand, the line had dissipated at the corporate-owned Verizon store across the parking lot.

"We're stocked right now," Verizon store manager Justin Keller said outside the store.

Keller couldn't discuss inventory, but said that as of about 9:30 a.m. he had in stock all iPhone 5S models and colors.

"All of that could change in an hour," he added.

Keller said that 10 people activated new devices at his store Friday morning, and he geared up his staff for a busy day.

"All my reps got here at six. We had a trial run and we opened at eight," Keller said. "They're well-caffeinated and ready to go."

The store also offered muffins, juice and bottled water to early adopters who came in to the store.

"We had a little breakfast buffet," Keller said.

AT&T corporate spokesman Andy Colley wasn't able to disclose AT&T's day-of sales locally, but said staff geared up for the iPhone 5S's launch and its new features and services.

"We staffed up from the customer-facing position's perspective, Colley said.

He emphasized benefits such as AT&T's new high-speed 4G LTE (long term evolution) cellular network, which iPhone 5 and newer models support.

"We launched 4G LTE in Medford and Ashland in August," Colley said.

Verizon has had LTE in Medford since fall 2012. Colley said representatives are trained to promote that people can talk and use data simultaneously with AT&T.

The iPhone 5S is available from all four national wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Reach newsroom assistant Nick Morgan at

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