Apple set a new record by selling more than 4 million iPhone 4S smartphones in the first three days after it was introduced, as customers flocked to Apple retail stores and waited in huge lines to get their hands on the coveted device.

The company surpassed the number that it set last year, when it sold 1.7 million units of the iPhone 4 in the first three days. In further proof of the 4S's appeal, U.S. carriers Sprint Nextel, Verizon Wireless and AT&T reported massive activation rates for the new iPhone.

The device, which hit stores in the United States, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Australia and Japan on Friday, was the company’s first hardware release since the death of Steve Jobs on Oct. 5. His Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, was among the first to get a handset, from the store in Los Gatos, Calif.

Apple, which introduced the iCloud for wireless synchronizing of music, pictures and documents across all its devices, said more than 20 million customers have already started using the iOS 5 within the first five days of the platform’s release.

The company added that 20 million customers have also signed up for iCloud, according to a SFGate report.

The iPhone 4S runs on the improved iOS 5 and sports a 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, an Apple A5 chipset, a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU and an 8 megapixel LED flash camera.

The device is priced at $199, $299 and $399, each with a two-year contract, for the 16, 32 and 64GB versions, respectively. Without a contract, the same device costs $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64GB.