Breakfast with fanboys: Apple's iPhone 5 launches in the UK

Image 1 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1055.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1055.jpg

Image 2 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1061.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1061.jpg

Image 3 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1068.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1068.jpg

Image 4 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1042.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1042.jpg

Image 5 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1051.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1051.jpg

Image 6 of 6

original_slideimages/IMG_1035_2.jpg

original_slideimages/IMG_1035_2.jpg

Last week, the iPhone 5 was finally "here", with Apple's blockbuster 12 September announcement over in San Francisco officially heralding the birth of its new-generation smartphone.

But it wasn't until today, at around 08:00 BST, that the latest iPhone was officially let loose on the UK, with the nine days between unveiling and actual launch best understood as a kind of accelerated childhood for the no longer nascent handset.

Certainly, there were some initial growing pains, with palpable disappointment expressed by many that the device lacked the kind of wow factor Apple's products are generally known for. This evolved into full-on adolescent-style angst yesterday with the arrival of iOS 6 and, more specifically, widespread frustration with the Cupertino-based firm's new native Maps application. Judging by our play-around with the operating system, Apple's cartographic effort has indeed suffered from its recent divorce from search giant Google.

So this morning represented the home stretch on the road to the iPhone 5, with eager consumers lining the pavements outside of Apple's flagship London stores on Regent Street and in Covent Garden. Many were sporting the kind of baggy eyelids that hinted at more than one night bedded down on the asphalt. Indeed, everything about the scene was slightly surreal, right down to the busker playing Tears for Fears' "Mad World" at Oxford Circus station, an ironic gesture if ever there was one.

Spirits were high out on the streets, and after a brief scrum with the majority of the press trying to get shots of the first UK consumers to be able to boast iPhone 5 ownership, I sought out some equally keen shoppers a bit further back in the queue, which was tidy out on the high street but got increasingly scruffy as it snaked its way to Hannover Square. There, the fanboys were ranked en masse, corralled into the square's small park under the watchful gaze of both Apple officials and William Pitt.

John, an IT consultant who had been queuing for about an hour when he spoke to ITProPortal, was optimistic about getting his iPhone 5 on the day. He pointed to the handset's place on the UK's new 4G LTE spectrum as a crucial factor motivating him to buy Apple's latest smartphone.

"I'm with Orange. For me, data speed is really important. I work away from home so I don't have broadband, so I hope to be tethering it to my laptop and using the 4G network," he added.

Watching a handful of the most dedicated campers spend their first few moments alone with their new mobile, I couldn't help feel just a little bit jealous, despite being an Apple-sceptic at heart. The iPhone 5, it seemed, had matured into a quietly assured device in the space of just over a week. To finish off the coming-of-age metaphor, Apple's latest handset now looks like the loveable geek who finally won over the girl or guy of their dreams just in time for prom.

Standing in the street with my now officially outdated iPhone 4S, I couldn't help but feel a bit dumb, like the shallow, inconsiderate jock looking on as his one-time gal has the last dance with the president of the computer club. The iPhone 5 has arrived and I don't have one. How Apple's most recent handset fares from here on in remains to be seen, but today wasn't about the reviews, or even the comparisons against rivals like the Galaxy S3. Ultimately, it was about the fans - it was my first real experience with the fanboys and I couldn't help but feeling like maybe, just maybe, they were right all along.