'Cheap' iPhone rolls out with hefty price tag

'Cheap' iPhone rolls out with hefty price tag

TOKYO - Apple acolytes got their hands on new iPhones Friday in the global roll-out of two new models, but failure to make headway in China and complaints about the price struck a sour note.

The once-unbeatable king of the smartphones has penned a potentially lucrative new deal with Docomo, Japan's biggest mobile carrier, but is without a new alliance in the vast Chinese market.

That, and rumblings over the high cost - even of the pared-down iPhone 5C - could mute the fanfare that routinely accompanies launches, observers say.

The double debut kicked off in Australia when stores threw open their doors to eager crowds at 8:00 am (2200 GMT Thursday).

Jimmy Gunawan, 33, was first in line at the company's flagship Sydney store, but was surprised he only had to stake his place 20 hours beforehand.

"Last year, I got here around the same time and there was already a queue of about 20 people," the freelance graphic designer said.

In Tokyo, diehard fans began lining up last week, and even sat out a weekend typhoon to keep their spot in a queue that grew to around a kilometre (half-a-mile) in length by opening time, police estimated.

But worldwide, some Apple fans were not prepared either to line up or shell out the asking price.

"Wow, $1,129 (US$1,331.22) for an iPhone 5s here in Australia. That's simply insane," tweeted Bill Hutchison, referring to the cost of a 64GB model of the new version, which boasts a speedier processor and a fingerprint sensor.

Another, David Smith, tweeted: "Incredible - Apple charging US$99 for iPhone 5c in the USA (with a contract) but A$740 in Australia and its A$1,200 for 5s - no wonder Android phones are popular."

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