i upgrade

It’s been about two years since Jhordan Buyat upgraded to a new phone.

But the Kekaha resident can now download as many games as he wants and listen to his music with wireless earphones on his new iPhone 7.

“There’s a bigger screen, the picture quality is good, and I like how fast it is,” he said. “There are too many steps to go on one app on one Android. Apple is a good brand.”

Buyat and his girlfriend, Iesha Kubo-Medeiros, were among dozens of customers who visited AT&T in Lihue Friday for the launch date of Apple’s newest smartphone

Debra Marshall, AT&T store manager, said about 15 people lined up outside before the phone carrier opened at 9 a.m. Friday.

“For people to sit outside and wait to bring us their business, that’s just awesome,” she said. “It is busier than normal today because it’s the iPhone launch.”

The Kekaha couple did not pre-order Buyat’s phone, but Marshall said the AT&T store has “a decent stock” of the smartphone.

Buyat coughed up about $850 for his 256 gigabyte upgrade.

His new smartphone will also allow the Waimea grad to have a better playing experience on one of his favorite games — Pokemon Go.

“(On my iPhone 5), the screen is so small. When I try to curve the ball, my finger slides off the phone. It’s time for an upgrade,” he said.

With the release of the phone, Apple’s stock rose for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, up 12 percent this week on growing optimism about early sales of its newest phone. The technology company soared in share prices, jumping from $103 on Wednesday to $115 Thursday.

The newest improvements made by Apple include a water-resistant feature, louder speakers, a brighter screen, a 12-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and a faster processor.

Storage has also doubled from past phones. The entry-level models now have 32 gigabytes compared to its predecessors with 16.

Additionally, Apple said the new phones add an hour or two more of battery life.

Iesha Kubo-Medeiros, who owns an iPhone 6, plans on upgrading to the 7S as soon as it’s available on the Garden Isle.

“I get one every year it comes out. I don’t ever stay with the same phone,” she said. “I like the picture quality. I like to take pictures that’s why. It’s fast, and everything about it is just very good. I’m a phone junkie, so I love my iPhones.”

AT&T officials said lines were longer at the Lihue store last year with the release of the 6S. They said lines extended around the building.

One reason why lines were shorter this year is because of pre-order sales, store employees said.

“That started on Aug. 9, and (sales have) been steady ever since then,” Marshall said. “I don’t know of any other phone where people will sit outside and wait. If I didn’t work, I’d be waiting outside.”

The Lihue store, however, did not carry the 7S and the new jet black-colored iPhone 7.

Marshall said a nationwide delay is to blame, but assured customers they plan on carrying those models in the near future.

Last week, the technology powerhouse unveiled the iPhone 7 and 7S in San Francisco. Entry-level models begin at $650 for the 7 and $770 for the 7S. They come in silver, gold, rose gold, black and the new jet-black finish.

Older iPhones will get price reductions, and last year’s models are also getting double the storage.

The latest software update — iOS 10 — which came out last Tuesday, adds more intelligence to Apple services •••

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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