Hundreds in Singapore queue up for new iPhone 4S

Higher launch prices notwithstanding, hundreds of iPhone fans queued up late Thursday night to be among the first people in Singapore to own Apple’s latest gizmo – the iPhone 4S.

Although the launch time stated by all telcos was Friday 12 midnight, some began queuing as early as 8.30am on Thursday to ensure that they get a place in the queue.

Take Melva Yip, a 21-year-old student at Nanyang Polytechnic. He and his friend agreed to work in shifts and started their quest from 8.30am on Thursday. His reward: the first M1 customer to own an iPhone 4S.

A current iPhone 4 user, Yip is convinced that the 4S is a worthy upgrade. “I’m upgrading for the speed, for the camera,” he said.

Also in the M1 queue was 20-year-old Jayden Chen. He said, “What attracts me is the Siri function. I’m switching over from SingTel because I think there’s a lower chance of getting the phone fast with SingTel, as they’re going with a pre-order system.”

In comparison, M1 offered the iPhone 4S on a first-come-first-served basis.

But others were less willing to queue for the phone themselves. 27-year-old Amit Sawhney, who owns a construction materials manufacturing business, conveniently got his foreign worker to stand in line for him from 9.30am. As a result, he managed to be the first SingTel customer to own an iPhone 4S.

In addition to the launch of the physical handsets, SingTel also unveiled their exclusive apps for the iPhone 4S, including one which localises voice-controlled assistant Siri’s functionality in a separate app.

Called deF!NE, the app allows users to search their surroundings with familiar terms like “char kway teow”. A quick hands-on with the app shows that it’s nowhere near Siri’s polish, but still works well enough to be useful.

These apps could prove to be a key differentiator for the red telco, as the iPhone 4S is otherwise identical across the board.

Check out our photo gallery of the launchhere!


Millions affected by floods in Cambodia

Cambodia is experiencing some of the worst  flooding in a decade caused by heavy monsoon rains and strong typhoons which have lashed the whole of the Southeast Asian region. According to Cambodian officials, at least 150 have been killed and some 270,000 households affected in 17 out of 24 provinces since floodwaters started to rise in August.  Tens of thousands of acres of rice paddies have been flooded just before the harvest raising questions about this years’ crop and the economic impact not only for farmers but also the country as a whole. Some 10% of this years’ harvest may have been destroyed, officials estimate.

Local officials and aid agencies such as the Cambodian Red Cross have been scrambling to help evacuate people in affected areas and provide basic items such as food and water. But as an ECHO assessment team discovered during a recent assessment mission to Kampong Cham province, the flooded areas are so vast that it is difficult to reach all villages. Some have been completely cut-off from the outside world by the rising flood waters.  The team spent hours with the Cambodian Red Cross criss-crossing the country-side in small motorboats visiting small villages which have not received any assistance.  Many inhabitants did not want to leave,  either because they did not want to abandon their homes and possessions or because the flood waters rose so quickly that they feel safer in their homes than risk being swept away by the floods.  Some are living in their homes although the water is knee deep. Others have set up temporary shelters close by on bridges which stick out of the flood plains like small islands.
There are growing fears of  water borne diseases.As flood waters recede in some provinces the extend of the damage becomes more apparent as roads have been washed away, irrigation canals filled with mud, and private homes businesses damaged.

Photo Credit: Thearat Touch, Cecile Pichon, Evangelos Petratos  EU/ECHO

Story: Mathias Eick, Regional Information Officer

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