Long lines formed at stores selling the new smartphone in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will go on sale in another 22 countries next week.
In London, England, some people camped out for a week to be among the first to get the phone. In Hong Kong, Apple store staff chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" high-fived customers as they were allowed into the store one-by-one.
Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joined the queue of early adopters. In Brisbane, Australia, for a business forum, Wozniak was in line with hundreds of others to snap up the new phone, Reuters reported.
"Well, this is the place where the iPhone 5 is being released to the world for the first time in the world, and I don't have to wait 17 extra hours to get it in California," Wozniak told a local Australian television morning show.
Anticipation for the product has been high. Apple said this will be the biggest iPhone launch ever, having received two million preorders in the first 24 hours . That preorder figure is double the number that Apple received when it launched the iPhone 4S a year ago.
Apple expects to sell 10 million phones over next few weeks, and BMO thinks the company will sell 50 million units in the final three months of this year.
Apple's share price earlier this week topped $700 US for the first time. On Friday, the stock closed up $1.39 US, or 0.2 per cent, at $700.09.Suggest a correction