file photo

file photo (Getty Images)

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple fans -- including co-founder Steve Wozniak -- lined up on Friday morning for a chance to buy the iPhone 4S, the latest in the company's line of "Jesus Phones," which includes many under-the-hood improvements.

The lines, which drew thousands, were part exercises in tech commercialism and part homages to Steve Jobs, Apple's other co-founder, who died last week following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

In New York, Apple fans created a makeshift memorial to Jobs that included flowers, photos, iPad boxes and apples (as in the fruit).

And in Atlanta, some people said they were lining up for the phone in part because of Jobs.

"I wanted it anyway, but (Jobs' death) made me sort of want it more because this is the last one I know he worked on," Dwight Hill, from an Atlanta suburb, said of his decision to buy the phone. "I just hope the company keeps going in the same direction."

About 200 people had lined up in the wee hours of the morning in New York to buy the new phone, which has a faster processor and a "digital assistant" that responds to voice commands and talks back to phone owners, answering their questions.

Long lines also formed in Asia and Europe as people waited for the phone.

In Silicon Valley, California, Wozniak, the Apple co-founder who, along with Jobs, helped create the world's first truly personal computer, sat in an armchair at the front of a line that began forming Thursday afternoon. He tapped on his iPad, sipped Diet Dr. Pepper and took photos with fans while he awaited the phone's release.

"I want to get mine along with the millions of other fans," Wozniak said. "I just want to be able to talk to my phone."

The iPhone 4S initially was panned by critics, who said it was more of a facelift to the iPhone 4 than a new product. The phone's exterior looks the same as its predecessor, but the guts are new. Inside there's a faster A5 dual-core processor, an improved 8 megapixel camera and a voice assistant named Siri, who will respond to voice commands and answer questions.

When Brian X. Chen, a tech writer at Wired, tested the phone, he found Siri to be quite the helpful -- and hilarious -- assistant.

He published a series of his conversations with Siri.

"Me: 'I'm drunk,' " he wrote.

"Siri: 'I found a number of cabs fairly close to you.' (Perfect; it didn't dial my ex-girlfriend.)"

Aside from Jobs, Siri seemed to be one of the main draws for people waiting in line for the iPhone 4S.

"I just want the personal assistant," said Teresa Sparks, 41, an Atlanta nurse who had been waiting in line for the phone since 4:45 a.m.

Scott England, who also waited in an Atlanta line for the phone, teased a friend of his who said he was buying the iPhone 4S because of the camera. Clearly, he said, "Siri is a big deal," not the camera.

"He's got a secretary -- I don't," he joked.

Becky Waddell, a 33-year-old real-estate agent, also praised Apple's new digital assistant, which is only available on the iPhone 4S, and which has been compared to HAL 9000, Skynet and other fictional computer overlords.