With Apple set to release the iPhone 5 on Friday, many locals are camping out to ensure they have their hands on one as soon as it goes on sale.
At the downtown San Francisco Apple store, at 1 Stockton St., a line of eager iPhone enthusiasts is beginning to take shape.
But the person who wanted the iPhone 5 more than anyone else didn’t even get in line. Instead, he paid another man to camp out for him.
Charlie Hufnagel, 24, from San Francisco’s Mission District has been camping out since Monday morning on behalf of a man who paid him to do so.
“It’s surreal,” said Hufnagel of his experience camping out in front of the Apple store in his one-man green tent.
Hufnagel, standing in front of his picket sign that reads, “Ask me how long I’ve been here?” is being paid $1,500 by the man, whose name remained confidential, to camp out, he said.
Hufnagel said the man hired him through the website www.taskrabbit.com, a site where people pay others to do errands.
After being laid off from a video gaming company a couple months ago, Hufnagel, donning a lime-green “taskrabbit” T-shirt, said he has been doing contract jobs for the site to make ends meet.
“I’m making more money doing this than I was with my last job,” Hufnagel said.
Once he set up his tent, Hufnagel said Apple personnel set up stanchion posts to rope off a line, beginning with him. He said the employees have been accommodating, offering water and the bathroom as he waits for the phone’s release.
After being by himself for two days, Hufnagel got some company Wednesday when a trio of men from the San Francisco-based company Compupod set up a large tent.
Compupod’s founder, Hugo Gonzalez, 27, of San Francisco, was one of the three men camping out. But he said he already pre-ordered his phone through Apple’s website.
“I’m here more to promote my company,” he said, which repairs and customizes iPhones.
Gonzalez, taking a break from his chess match, said his company is still open, with employees manning the ship in his absence, and his wife and two kids are home awaiting his return.
“They think I’m crazy,” Gonzalez said. “But they know it’s for the company so they are OK with it.”
The only issue with camping out, according to Gonzalez and Hufnagel, is the construction work being done at the corner of Stockton and Market streets.
“Ear buds are definitely a necessity,” Hufnagel said.
Apple likely wasn’t considering construction when it created its new EarPods, but the buds, which will be one of the many new features of the phone, are made to fit the ear comfortably, and stay there.
The iPhone 5, which promises to be a significant upgrade from the most recent iPhone 4S, features a taller, thinner and lighter frame with a larger display screen than its predecessor. But the phones are the same width.
In addition, the phone, which will retail between $199 and $399, will have an Internet twice as fast and a longer battery life.
There might be something to the new iPhone release.
Hufnagel camped out to make money, but is now considering getting an iPhone 5 of his own.
“I didn’t want an iPhone when I got here,” he said. “But I’ve been hearing people say so many good things about it the last couple of days, I don’t know what to do now.”
John Soria, 33, of San Francisco took two days off from his job at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to be in line for the phone.
Soria, unlike Hufnagel and Gonzalez, is determined to get the phone.
“I’m doing it for bragging rights over my friends and family,” Soria said. “I sold my iPhone 4S to pay for the iPhone 5.”
After selling his iPhone 4S, Soria got a Blackberry phone as a stopgap between iPhones.
“I have a Blackberry now, which I regret getting. It sucks,” he said.
Soria joined the line at 8:30 a.m. today and is around the 14th person in line.
“I think it’s worth the wait,” he said.
The iPhone 5 has been available for pre-order since Sept. 17, but officially goes on sale Friday morning across the U.S.