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Hundreds Line up For iPhone 5s, Some Seeking Gold

By  Lizzie Schiffman Tufano and Paul Biasco | September 20, 2013 10:09am | Updated on September 20, 2013 2:01pm

 Lines snaked around cell phone carriers and Apple stores Friday for the iPhone 5S and 5C release.
iPhone Day Draws Crowds
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DOWNTOWN — Hundreds of iPhone hungry Chicagoans lined up on Michigan Avenue and in Lincoln Park for a chance to grab coveted gold and silver versions of the new phone.

Some got in line as early as Thursday afternoon for a chance at the gold iPhone 5s.

"That's what everyone in line really wanted," said 18-year-old Dalal Aqel.

Aqel and her sister got to the Lincoln Park store at 6 a.m., waited in line to buy two phones for their mom and dad, and got back in line — this time equipped with chairs — to get their own silver iPhone 5s.

"We originally wanted to get the gold ones, but they ran out right away," she said. "They opened at right and ran out of gold by 8:10."

Apple employees were passing out coffee early Friday, later water and at one point umbrellas during a short period of rain.

Dalal Aqel's tired and grumpy uncle Abraham was one of the first to line up outside Thursday night and snagged one of the few gold versions of the phone. 

"I wanted it because no one has them," he said. "It was worth it."

At the Verizon store on North Michigan Avenue, there was a similar scene.

Neither John Allen nor Angie Atwell say they usually go to early-morning openings to buy updated versions of Apple's coveted smartphones, but both were lined up outside the store, 500 N. Michigan Ave., before 9 a.m. Friday to get the latest.

Atwell, who lives in Bucktown and didn't have to be at work in River North until noon, had recently cracked the screen on her iPhone 4S, but was holding out for one of the two newest editions that were unveiled Sept. 10.

She got in line outside the store at 7:30 a.m. and was 30th in line.

"I'm not that crazy of an Apple person, but I do like to get the updates," she said. "When the 4S came out it was kind of crazy, so I knew [to expect] that — because it's a new iPhone, and there are some very dedicated Apple fans. I knew that there would be a line."

The store usually opens at 9 a.m., but started their day an hour earlier Friday, anticipating the crowd. Employees roped off the sidewalk in front of the store, which a spokeswoman called "typical iPhone procedure."

When asked about the line by a passerby, a Verizon employee described the commotion as "iPhone day."

John Allen got to Michigan Avenue early to grab an iPhone 5S before starting work a few doors down at Swarovski.

"I really want the one with the biggest memory because I'm sick of not having enough memory on this one," he said, holding up his older generation iPhone. "I'm getting sick of my phone telling me to delete photos because I have too many of them."

Off-contract, the iPhone 5S costs $649, $749 and $849 for the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, respectively. With a 2-year contract, those models are priced at $199, $299 and $399.

The iPhone 5C costs $549 for 16 GB off-contract and $649 for 32 GB. With a contract, those prices are reduced to $99 and $199, plus the cost of the phone plan.