First to get their hands on the phone were a group of men in Hamburg who had pitched their camp on Tuesday, the Bild daily reported. Crowds grew outside all of the country's outlets throughout Thursday night.
In Munich, each customer leaving the store with their Apple tote-bag was treated to a round of applause from an employee who had been instructed to make them all feel like winners, said news magazine Focus.
“I flew here from Moscow especially,” 25-year-old Alexander Mal told the magazine. “My boss said he would give me the day off if I brought him one back.” Just two hours later he was on a plane back to Russia.
Skipping school to wait in the queue, one 12-year-old boy said he had been saving for the phone for a year and had driven up from Austria with his father to finally buy one.
“We left Innsbruck in the middle of the night to get here; he wanted it that way,” the boy's dad said, adding that it was okay to be missing class for the event.
Up in the north west of the country, Dutch people – who can't yet buy the phone - made up a significant proportion of a group who simply could not wait to get into the Oberhausen shopping centre which housed the Apple shop. Several people are reported to have fainted in the heaving crowd of around 4,000.
Around two million people pre-ordered the iPhone 5, a new record for Apple. It will soon become available in other countries, too.