In what’s become an annual pilgrimage, almost 300 people lined up outside the Apple store at Eaton Centre to be among the first North Americans to get their hands on the company’s new iPhone on Friday morning.

Dani Winters, the first person in line for the iPhone 5, told CP24 he took his spot Wednesday night.

It's the third time Winters has sacrificed hours of his time to be first in line for an iPhone.

“I love Apple products, the iPhone is my favourite one,” Winters told CP24’s Cam Woolley before the store opened at 8 a.m. “I get it every year because they make major improvements on it.”

Like Winters, this isn't the first rodeo for most of those who spent a night or two in line before Friday's launch. Several people admitted they lined up to buy previous versions of the iPhone or other Apple gadgets.

When the doors finally opened, customers rushed into the store through a gauntlet of Apple employees, who clapped, cheered and gave high-fives to consumers.

The smartphone retails for $700 and up without a phone plan, or about $180 with a three-year contract.

Despite the lineups, the Apple store isn't the only retail outlet where people can pick one up.

People were able to buy iPhones at The Source in Eaton Centre without having to wait in a long lineup, an employee told CP24.

Similar Apple store frenzies worldwide

Meanwhile, similar frenzies unfolded at Apple stores worldwide, as people lined up by the hundreds to buy the smartphone.

In addition to Canada, the iPhone 5 was launched in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S., Britain, France and Germany on Friday.

It will go on sale in 22 more countries next week.

There is generally a lot of hype when Apple releases a new or updated product, and people are excited about this version – the sixth generation of the smartphone – because it is thinner, lighter, has a bigger and sharper screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster mobile networks.

Despite initial lukewarm reviews, the iPhone 5 has been a hot seller. In the 24 hours after it was unveiled, Apple received more than two million preorders, double the number of requests for the iPhone 4S a year ago.

Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.

Best iPhone yet, tech expert says

Tech expert Marc Saltzman told CP24 the newest iPhone is the best one yet, citing its thinner and lighter design, and larger screen.

“Feature for feature it is a big improvement over last year’s version,” Saltzman said of the iPhone 4S.

Saltzman said the best iPhone 5 feature is its four-inch retina display.

“Increasingly we’re using our smartphones for watching video or playing games, and we’re reading e-books, so you want a beautiful screen,” he said.

The new iPhone, however, has been dogged by three common complaints.

Its dock connector is smaller and incompatible with older accessories or cords, its battery life is not ideal for power management, and new map software is glitch prone and inaccurate, according to some reviews.

Saltzman said he has been using Apple’s iOS 6 operating system for two months and hasn’t noticed any problems with the accuracy of the maps.

With files from The Associated Press

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