Today, the Internet as well as local newspapers covered this story where people of the Chinese origin in U.S. were buying iPhone 4s in bulk that are eventually imported by their own country, where Apple is officially releasing its star-studded phone tomorrow. Dvice.com stated that these phones are sold for as high as $1000 in China! Newspapers also depicted the irony that these iPhone 4's are originally manufactured (by an OEM called Foxconn) in China, then shipped to U.S. where they're locked to AT&T network, and sold without a contract for $599 for a 16GB model. So, basically on its return trip back to China, the price is increased by a good $400 which we can assume is commissioned by all the middlemen; from the people who buy it in U.S., to the people who actually sell the device in China.
This got me thinking; we have people in our own country who're paying that kind of sum for an iPhone 4. A quick search on ebay.in reveals that most iPhone 4s selling here are purchased and unlocked from U.S. Currently, the lowest is at Rs. 40,000 while some are ridiculously high at Rs. 55,000. Firstly, I am very sure many are ignorant about the concept of unlocking and jailbreaking and its implications. Back in May, I'd even written about it, trying to clear some misconceptions. Still, I keep running into people who accidentally update their iPhone OS, only to realize that their phone gets locked with the newer version.
I agree restoring and jailbreaking/unlocking the iPhone isn't rocket
science, and anybody who reads a tutorial on the Internet can do it in a
matter of minutes. However, the non-savvy people are at the mercy of local cell-phone sellers who "specialize" in such procedures; charging them anywhere between Rs. 650 to Rs. 1,500 for unlocking/jail-breaking their device. It has become a good business opportunity for them; where the owner doesn't have to worry about anything and even gets his phone back working with a lot of apps pre-loaded as a " bonus".
Tip for people wanting to buy the iPhone 4 in India:
1) If you can wait till October (which isn't too far from now), and are using Airtel or Vodafone, then it would be better to wait till either carrier launches the phone officially here. The advantage? You will get official warranty for your phone (which you lose if you get one from any other country, unless you are able to send the phone back to the country of purchase for repairs, should anything go wrong).
2) If you are on another operator, or can't wait till either Vodafone/Airtel releases it officially here, then I'd suggest you insist on one that is imported from a country where the iPhone's sold without a contract AND officially unlocked. Here's a quick memory jog of all the countries that do this:
Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa
Off all these countries, the Apple Hong Kong Store currently has the best pricing. You can get one for Rs. 29,274 ($642) - and use it with any carrier you want here. People keen on jailbreaking the phone can go ahead and do so. But for people who're not very savvy with this fairly risky procedure, buying one from Hong Kong will also give them a peace of mind and an assurance that their phone won't get locked because of an accidental phone update.
Do you agree with this article?