The first batch of iPhone 5 handsets began shipping on Tuesday to people who ordered them online last week, according to FedEx tracking notices delivered the same day.
Receipt of the notices was widely reported on the Twitter microblogging service. One of the notices seen by IDG News Service showed the phone being shipped from a FedEx facility in Memphis, Tennessee, for delivery on Friday. The phone was ordered through Verizon Wireless.
Verizon, Sprint and AT&T opened their websites to preorders last Friday at midnight Pacific time -- timing that disadvantaged those on the U.S. East Coast because it was 3 a.m. local time there.
On Monday, Apple said pre-orders of the new phone totaled 2 million in the first 24 hours. That was double the pace of orders for its predecessor, the iPhone 4S.
The quick pace of sales means that customers ordering the iPhone 5 online now can expect to receive it in October, Apple said.
Cellphone carriers in several countries around the world will begin selling the iPhone 5 through retail stores on Friday.
Sales are scheduled to begin in Australia at 8 a.m. local time, then move through Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.K., France and Germany before hitting the U.S. and Canada.
The phone costs between $199 and $399 in the U.S., depending on the amount of storage and with the signing of a two-year contract.
The total price of the phone and two years of cellular service ranges from about $1,160 on Verizon's cheapest plan to $4,000 on Verizon's most expensive plan. Its most expensive contracts are meant to be shared among more than one user. The other carriers fall somewhere in between, with typical prices in the $1,600-to-$2,800 range.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is [email protected]