Following Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 5 on September 12, the new smartphone is now available to preorder in the select launch countries, which include the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK.

The device is available via the Apple Store and a number of Apple’s operator partners in the nine original launch countries. You can also use the Apple Store app to buy your new iPhone 5, which tends to be quicker.

While Japan and Hong Kong are listed in the original launch, customers cannot preorder the device in these countries and will have to wait for general availability on September 21.

The device, which starts at $199 (on contract) and $649 (£529) unlocked, is Apple’s thinnest iPhone yet, measuring 7.6 mm in thickness, which is 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S and 20% lighter at 112 grams. The smartphone features the same 326 PPI Retina display, but sports a bigger 4-inch display with dimensions of 1136 x 640 pixels at a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The iPhone 5 also includes a faster A6 processor, improved 8-megapixel camera (and features), FaceTimeHD, and for the first time since the iPhone’s launch in 2007, Apple has upgraded the Dock Connector with a new system it calls Lightning.

It’s 80% smaller than the older connector and Apple has partnered with Bose, JBL, B&W, Bang and Olufsen and a bunch more to produce accessories for it. It’s got an all digital, 8-signal design, adaptive interface, improved durability, and it’s reversible, so you can stick it in any way you want.

Today’s preorder launch is one of Apple’s biggest, particularly because the iPhone 5 is LTE enabled, allowing each of the company’s launch partners to offer the device on their 4G networks (if they have one). AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will sell one of Apple’s three different iPhone 5 models, depending on the LTE spectrum that they support.

From today, the iPhone 5 will also be available on 6 carriers in Canada; KDDI, KT, SK Telecom and more in Asia, T-Mobile Germany and Everything Everywhere in the UK.

Apple’s choice of supported LTE bands has left many operators unable to offer their customers superfast 4G speeds, but the iPhone 5 still supports 3G data and voice, allowing it to be sold on varying carriers and on a large number of networks worldwide when Apple launches the device in more regions around the world.

Preorders made today will ship on September 21, when the device will also go on sale in Apple Stores and other retail stores.

A week later, the iPhone 5 will become available in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.