Almost 200 people stood in line for iPhones in Georgetown. We have pictures.

Some people have dismissed the iPhone 5s as little more than an incremental improvement over its predecessor. But the nearly 200 people who stood in line for hours outside the Georgetown Apple store Friday morning (and, in some cases, Thursday night) beg to differ.

Apple enthusiasts lined up for iPhones on September 20, 2013, at 7:42 AM. The store opens at 8 AM. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)
Apple enthusiasts lined up for iPhones on Sept. 20, 2013, seen at 7:42 AM. The store opens at 8 a.m. (Timothy B. Lee/The Washington Post)

The line stretched up Wisconsin Avenue, turned right, and continued along N Street.

People in line for iPhones on September 20, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)
People in line for iPhones on Sept. 20, 2013. (Timothy B. Lee/The Washington Post)

A group of five college students — Jorge, Paul, Kyle, Michael, and Yesenia — got in line around 6 p.m. Thursday night. When they arrived, only one person was ahead of them. Each of the four men plans to buy an iPhone 5s, while Yesenia was just there to provide moral support. Some go to Georgetown University, others go to George Washington University.

Jorge, Paul, Kyle, Michael, and Yesenia standing in line for an iPhone. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)
Jorge, Paul, Kyle, Michael, and Yesenia (from left to right) standing in line for an iPhone. (Timothy B. Lee/The Washington Post)

The biggest draw for these students was the fingerprint scanner. "You can open it with your finger," Jorge said. "The ease of use, the simplicity, that's what makes it beautiful."

Added Kyle: "I'm more impressed with the camera. It's got the dual flash so you get truer colors in the skin tones. The slow motion cam."

Next I talked to Alexa and Catherine (Or maybe it's Katherine or Kathryn — if I was a better reporter I would have asked her to spell it), who are students at George Washington University. Each was planning to buy an iPhone 5s.

Alexa (left) and Catherine wait in line for new iPhones. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post)
Alexa (left) and Catherine wait in line for new iPhones. (Timothy B. Lee/The Washington Post)

The pair are in line because Catherine dropped her current iPhone a few weeks ago, leading to a spider web of cracks on the screen. "It still functions, but you can't really see much of the screen," she said.

Catherine shows me her damaged iPhone. (Timothy B. Lee / Washington Post) Catherine shows me her damaged iPhone. (Timothy B. Lee/The Washington Post)

She needed a buddy to stand in line with her, and Alexa is eligible for a phone upgrade so she agreed to join Catherine. They arrived at 3 a.m. Friday morning.

Most of the students in the first group are getting gold iPhones. But by the time the Apple staffers reached Alexa and Catherine, about 40 spots back, there were only black models available. So that's what they're getting.

On my way back to the office, I passed an AT&T store and a Verizon store. These, too, had lines stretching out down the sidewalk. On Thursday night, a sales representative at the AT&T Apple store said that he couldn't tell me how many iPhones he'd been given, but that he didn't expect it to be enough to meet the demand.

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Brian Fung · September 20, 2013