By Laura Smith-Spark
BBC News, New York
As the first handful of people in the queue for the new iPhone entered the Apple store on New York's Fifth Avenue, watching crowds cheered and dozens of camera flashes went off.
A few minutes later, they emerged to more applause - some of the first people in the world to have in their hands one of the most-hyped technology products in history.
Of course the star in question was the iPhone itself.
Its proud new owners, many visibly shaky after spending hours or days waiting in line, gingerly unwrapped the box to reveal the shiny, smooth-edged gadget of their dreams.
Anticipation has been running high ever since the design, which combines a phone with music player, camera and internet browser, all controlled by a touch screen, was unveiled in January.
Jessica Rodriguez, who was third in line having queued since Tuesday morning, was overjoyed to have the iPhone in her hands at last.
"It feels great, oh my God, overwhelming. I never thought this day would come - and now it finally has, it's mind-blowing," she said.
"We got no sleep with the rain and the dump trucks going back and forth. I'm going to go home and sleep and play with my phone a little bit."
She plans to give the second handset - Apple will let each customer buy only two - to her sister.
All those who buy the iPhone must activate it via iTunes, so no-one was able to call from their new handset as they left the Apple store.
But Norbert Pauli, a German working at the UN in New York, said he had been impressed by the phone's easy handling even from the little he had been able to do so far.
"The Mac community has waited for so many months and read so many reports. It does feel exactly how it should feel," he said.
"It's a masterpiece of craftsmanship, polished aluminium - the weight and size, it just feels great. You like it from the first minute you touch it."
Touch screen technology
New York DJ duo Andrew Andrew, two men named Andrew who are credited with having been the first in the world to DJ using iPods, said witnessing the buzz about the iPhone had been an experience in itself.
"It's pretty surreal, the amount of media and the amount of hype surrounding it," said one.
"I can't think of another product launch that has been like this. When we went into the store I was almost moved to tears, it just made you feel really special."
He said the device had lived up to his expectations so far - but predicts there will inevitably be some people who dismiss it as over-hyped.
Some early reviews have highlighted slow internet download speeds as an issue, as well as questioning how easily people will adapt to using the device's touch screen technology, rather than a key pad, to send texts or e-mails.
But Shawn King, a Canadian who runs an online radio show called Your Mac Life, says he is confident the iPhone will impress even the sceptics.
"We've been looking forward to this for so long, been talking about it, thinking about it, reading about it.
"Nothing matches this - it's like going to a rock concert. As I went down the stairs in the store I was thinking 'this is what Sting feels'.
"I'm going to run home and ring people just to say 'guess what, I've got an iPhone, bye!'"
He describes the feel of the device as "very organic" and says he believes people will find it simple to operate.
"It doesn't feel like a hard piece of metal and glass. Even though it has no indentations, it feels like it's meant to fit in your hand exactly.
"I've used the interface and the smoothness of it was remarkable.
"Of course it's over-hyped and it's got some limitations, but no other cell phone manufacturer was clever enough to have the idea - and Apple did."
Lee Goldstein, a vascular surgery fellow who tried his iPhone out in the store as soon as he bought it, agrees it is almost instinctive to use.
"It was amazing, it was exactly what they said. It's really clear, you play with it, swipe your finger across the screen - and it works."