Customers rush to purchase the new iPhone 4S

Apple’s newest, faster iPhone 4S that went on sale nationally Friday found lots of enthusiastic customers at the company’s Summit Mall store in Fairlawn.

“I’m buying two,” said Tom Mahon, 45, a Kent resident who works at Kent State University.

Mahon was among the people standing in a short line outside the store Friday afternoon, waiting to buy either a black or white iPhone. (Customers who weren’t buying iPhones didn’t have to wait to enter the store.)

“I’ve had the [iPhone] 3GS about two years. We’re upgrading early,” Mahon said.

He said he needed a phone with 32 gigabytes of storage memory and he liked the 4S’s new Siri artificial intelligence “personal assistant” that each phone has in its bundle. the Siri application, which is exclusive to the 4S model, allows people to speak questions into the phone about such subjects as weather forecasts or the locations of nearby restaurants and quickly get an answer.

Chuck Choate, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, and his grandson Jacob Jordan walked out of the store with Choate’s new white iPhone.

“He’s my 13-year-old tech expert,” Choate said.

Choate said he wanted the 4S — he was trading up from an iPhone 3GS — in large part because of the Siri personal assistant feature. “I’m interested in voice-activated applications,” he said.

Choate also said he likes the idea of being able to use Apple’s new “iCloud,” which allows people to quickly see and retrieve data stored off-site. “It’s perfect for traveling folks,” he said.

The iPhone 4S comes with better software and an improved camera. Lots of people around the nation camped out so they could be among the first to buy one.

About 200 people were at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan as the iPhone 4S went on sale at 8 a.m. Steve Wozniak, who created Apple with Steve Jobs in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, was first in line at a store in Los Gatos, Calif.

Wozniak got in line at the California store even though he already had two new phones on the way. He told television station NBC11 on Thursday that while he waited for the store’s opening Friday morning, he planned on catching up on his email and chatting with fans.

Many said the event resembled a remembrance to Jobs, who died last week, a day after Apple Inc. announced the new phone.

Emily Smith, 27, was on the location-centric social network Foursquare. she got a virtual Steve Jobs badge that read: “Here’s to the crazy ones. ThankYouSteve.”

Others joked that the 4S model stood “for Steve.”

Many people came out despite the fact that they could have ordered phones online and had them shipped to their homes or offices.

Apple and phone companies in seven countries started taking orders for the iPhone 4S last Friday. Apple said Monday that more than 1 million orders came in, breaking the record set by last year’s model, which was available in fewer countries and on fewer carriers.

The death of Jobs could be affecting sales. Marketing experts say products designed by widely admired figures such as Jobs usually see an upsurge in sales after their creators die.

Una Chen, a 24-year-old banker, said she was just happy to swap out her Black- Berry Bold for the new iPhone, particularly after a BlackBerry outage affected her phone this week.

“It’s not good to have a phone and not be able to use it,” Chen said.

At Summit Mall, attorney Chris Yugulis said he also was going to swap his Blackberry for a new iPhone.

“I love this phone,” Yugulis said, holding his Blackberry in one hand. But he said he decided it was time to make a change.

In the United States, sales began at 8 a.m. in each time zone. They were available at Apple stores, along with those of the three partner carriers, AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless. Some Best Buy, Target and Walmart stores and authorized resellers also carried the phones.

The base model of the iPhone 4S costs $199 in the United States with a two-year contract. it comes with 16 gigabytes of storage. Customers can get 32 gigabytes for $299 and 64 gigabytes for $399.

The phones also debuted Friday in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Britain. They are coming to 22 more countries by the end of the month.

The phone — Apple’s fifth — has a faster processor and an improved camera compared with last year’s model. it has a new operating system that allows the user to sync content without needing to connect the phone to a computer.

However, some customers and investors were disappointed that Apple didn’t launch a more radical new model — an iPhone 5. It’s been more than a year since Apple’s previous model was released.

Some people made their iPhone 4S purchase as part of a personal celebration.

Renee Roll, a North Canton resident, waited at the Summit Mall store to buy what she said was going to be her first iPhone.

“I don’t have a smart phone at all,” Roll said. “This is my [50th] birthday gift.”