Mobile phone consumers across the world have rushed out in their numbers to buy Apple’s new iPhone 4 following its release last week.

The manufacturer has confirmed some 1.7 million of the handsets have already been purchased by customers in the five countries where it has so far been launched – the US, UK, Japan, France and Germany.

And with a number of other nations due to join the iPhone 4 generation in the coming weeks and months, that figure could rise significantly.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive officer, said: "This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. Even so, we apologise to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply."

Some of the highlights of the new handset include its upgraded camera, processor and talk time when compared with the previous model.

It is the second positive release for Apple this year following the iPad, of which more than three million sold inside three months.

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