London iPhone 5 buyers disagree on need for LTE, but look forward to bigger screen

No-one seems concerned about the lack of support for NFC

The iPhone 5's bigger screen was the big draw among people waiting in line for the new model, while opinions are split over whether to sign up for an LTE subscription or not.

As in many cities across the world, lines had formed outside the Apple Stores on Regent Street in London and opposite the Opéra in Paris, with people waiting to get their hands on the iPhone 5, which has a 4-inch screen, a faster processor and LTE connectivity.

There are about ten countries in Europe where iPhone 5 buyers will be able to take advantage of LTE. In the U.K. a commercial LTE network will soon be launched by operator EE, a joint venture between T-Mobile and Orange.

Some customers can't wait for the speed boost. "Faster is always better. My broadband at home is only 7Mbps and this should be a least three times as fast," said Aamir Karmali.

EE is the only U.K. operator that will offer LTE, and others buyers don't think it's worth switching operators for faster speeds.

"I am on O2, and I am not swapping just to get 4G ... I don't need it, O2's network is fast enough when you are actually connected to the network," said Matthew Taylor.

Taylor isn't alone in sticking with his current operator: "I am not getting LTE straight away, because I am on Vodafone," said James Smith

The two buyers were also indifferent to other aspects of the iPhone 5's design.

The phone's new connector means old accessories will need an adaptor but, said Taylor, "The things I have use Bluetooth, so I am not affected by that."

Smith sees no need for NFC, a short-range radio technology used for payments and transit ticketing that Apple decided not to include on the iPhone 5. "You can just use your card," Smith said.

For some people, LTE isn't even an option. Anthony Fitch, the first to exit the Paris store with an iPhone 5, hoped to be able to use LTE in Italy sometime next year. He, though, felt that Apple should have added NFC to the iPhone 5.

Outside the store in London, Costas from Greece said that LTE will launch in his country next year, but he won't be an early adopter: "I really don't care, because there isn't much need for the higher speeds."

The larger screen seemed to be a bigger draw.

"Compared to Samsung's phones, I think it is about time that Apple increased the screen size," said Karmali.

In London, the queuing experience was ruined by a large group of people that tried to cut the line in the middle of the night, and they weren't properly dealt with by security, according to Karmali.

Not everyone queuing was there to get a phone for themselves. Just around the corner from the store in Paris several people were spotted handing over their Apple bags in return for cash from a man with a wad of ¬50 notes.

The global launch of Apple's iPhone 5 began early Friday morning in Australia when stores in the country opened their doors at 8 a.m. Besides Australia, France and U.K., the iPhone 5 also becomes available in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore on Friday.

On Sept. 28, the new iPhone will go on sale in 22 more countries, including New Zealand and European countries including Italy, where Fitch lives. He said it had been worth camping out in the cold since Wednesday night in order to get the phone a few days early.

Peter Sayer, in Paris, contributed to this report.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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