DUBAI// Apple fans could get their hands on the new iPhones within 24 hours of their official launch – but only at a price.
On Tuesday evening Apple revealed its high-end iPhone 5s, with new fingerprint security, and the cheaper iPhone 5c, which is aimed at developing markets.
Within hours the two devices were available to order and importers were dealing with huge interest from people wanting to know more.
“We've listed the phones on our site and are getting a lot of traffic from people asking about the features of the iPhone 5s in particular and when they might be able to get them,” said Sheriff Rizwan, chief executive of online electronics store ALShop.com.
“We are aiming to get them in stock on the same day they are launched on September 20, but 100 per cent we will have them by the 21st.”
More supplies could be available this year because China, one of the biggest grey markets for new iPhones, becomes one of the official launch countries for the new devices.
“We haven't listed a price for the phones but there will be a premium if you want to be the first person to own one,” said Mr Rizwan.
In previous years grey-market buyers would expect to pay upwards of Dh8,000 for imported phones as demand far exceeded supply.
“The supply chain has drastically improved in recent years and there are many more units available, which in turn means prices will hopefully not be as high as in previous years,” said Mr Rizwan.
He expects to have between 200 and 300 units in stock in the first few days after the launch.
One problem experienced by early grey market adopters of the iPhone 5 was that not all the models worked on the 2.5 gigahertz and 1.8 gigahertz 4G bands used in the UAE.
“This time there are four different versions of the two new models and by the looks of things they all work on the frequencies used in the UAE, although we would need confirmation from du and Etisalat,” said Mr Rizwan.
The revolutionary new feature on the iPhone 5s is a fingerprint sensor on the home button that unlocks the phone, removing the need to enter a passcode. It is also the first mobile phone to run on a 64-bit A7 processor.
There are also upgrades to the camera.
The iPhone 5c replaces the previous iPhone 5, is made from composite plastic and has an older processor. It will be available in five different colours and is the cheaper of the two.
Both phones keep the same form factor and will come installed with the revamped iOS7 operating system, which will also be available on September 18 as a free upgrade to anyone with an iPhone 4 or above.
“The iPhone 4S was extremely popular here and a lot of people are coming to the end of their two-year phone contracts and are eligible for an upgrade,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics.
He advised people to hold off from buying grey-market versions and wait for the phone to be officially launched.
“Apple have certainly been getting better over the years. The iPhone 4S took three or four months to launch here but the iPhone 5 came out two months later and I expect something similar this time too.”
There was excitement among Apple fans. “I've had my iPhone 4 for a good few years and I think it's on its last legs so I will definitely get the new 5s,” said Amanjeet Singh, from India, who works in sales in Dubai.
“I'm not one of those people who will pay more to be the first to have it though. I'll wait until it's officially launched here.”
The unlocked 16GB iPhone 5s costs Dh2,383, the 32GB is Dh2,750 and the 64GB is Dh3,117 on the US Apple store.
The unlocked iPhone 5c costs Dh2,016 for the 16GB model and Dh2,383 for the 32GB unlocked versions.
The phones will initially be launched in the USA, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK on September 20.
Apple says by December the devices will be available in more than 100 countries although no specific date has been given for a UAE launch.