More than 120 people lined up at Fayette Mall's Apple Store to buy the new iPhone 5 debuting Friday.
Customers began arriving about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, but were asked to leave around midnight.
Fayette Mall manager Myron Worley said the mall is not equipped to have people line up inside, because maintenance employees spend the overnight hours cleaning floors.
The first in line was Myrna Dozier of San Antonio, who was visiting family in the area. She and her grandson Christopher Hisle wound up visiting Waffle House, IHOP and Wal-Mart to pass the time before returning to their spot in line in the morning.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"I'm really a Mac person," Dozier said. "I got my first Mac in 1984. I've only had one PC and it was a Dell and I gave it away.
"I hated it."
Dozier, who has had each previous version of the iPhone, bought a white, 64-gigabyte version of the phone, which boasts a larger screen among other improvements. It's the first time Apple has expanded the size of the screen since the product's debut, in 2007.
Behind her in line was Ron Dillard of Lexington, who talked up improvements to "the camera, the speed, all kinds of stuff, Siri, too."
"I'm excited," he said. "It's going to be awesome."
Siri is the voice-activated personal assistant app that became standard equipment on the most recent version of the iPhone, the 4S.
With a new wireless contract, the phone costs $199, $299 and $399 in the United States, depending on the amount of memory.
The line at Fayette Mall was part of what has become a familiar global ritual, with Apple fans on Friday morning jamming shops. The smartphone went on sale Friday in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later.
The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.
The handset has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is prone to glitches. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.
The global crowds reinforce estimates from analysts that the iPhone 5 will be the largest consumer-electronics debut in history. Apple might sell as many as 10 million iPhones during the weekend sales rush, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.
At Lexington's Fayette Mall, even people far back in line had received tickets guaranteeing them a phone.
Shortly before the store opened, Gary Messmer and his wife, Rosemary, joined the line, which stretched from the Apple Store near Macy's around a corner to the mall's front entrance.
"We're interested more in the larger phone and the fact that our current phones do not have Siri capability," he said.
As the 8 a.m. on-sale hour approached, Apple Store employees ran cheering along the line. That enthusiasm spread through the crowd, which began entering accompanied by an employee.
Dillard was the first to emerge.
"It was worth it," he said, gripping his new toy.