Apple's iPhone 5 is already off to a record setting start, according to a press release posted this morning on the company’s website. The much anticipated handset reportedly surpassed 2 million sales in the first 24 hours it was available for preorder on September 14. That’s more than double the previous record set by the iPhone 4S nearly a year ago, and over three times the 600,000 first-day sales of the iPhone 4 in 2010.

Initial stocks were depleted after just an hour of availability, forcing Apple to change the ship date listed on its website from September 21 to "two weeks." The company says that while the majority of preorders will still be delivered to customers on September 21, many are scheduled to be delivered in October.

Market analysts are forecasting strong sales for the iPhone 5. IHS iSuppli estimates the device will help drive Apple's smartphone shipments in 2012 to 149 million units, up 60 percent from 93 million in 2011. Meanwhile, Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley believes the company might sell from 9 million to 10 million iPhone 5 units by September 29 to close the third quarter, upping a previous estimate of 6 million units.

AT&T also said it posted record preorders of its own, although it stopped short of providing specific figures.

The iPhone 5 will officially hit stores in a total of 9 countries this Friday, September 21. Another 22 countries will follow suit a week later, while a total of  240 carriers in 100 countries should have it available by December.

But Samsung is not standing still as the new iPhone grabs all the headlines, though. A report from the Korea Times -- one that seems purposely well timed to try and slow down the iPhone 5’s momentum -- quotes an unnamed Samsung official saying the firm is ready to unveil the Galaxy S4 at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The next-gen Galaxy handset would reportedly go on sale as early as March 2013.

Not many details are available at this time except that the Galaxy S4 would sport a 5-inch OLED display, surpassing the already quite large 4.8-inch screen on the S3, along a few external design changes.