x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

iPhone 5 and iPad Mini in the UAE: an oddly low-key Apple debut

Yet stocks should run out within days. Local launch of the latest iPhone and iPad excites the diehards but does not appear to arouse as much interest as past Apple debuts

Judith Kaneko, a salespersos at Jacky's Electronics Express store in Mall of the Emirates, organizes the display of the new iPhone 5 yesterday.
Judith Kaneko, a salespersos at Jacky's Electronics Express store in Mall of the Emirates, organizes the display of the new iPhone 5 yesterday.

DUBAI // Enthusiasm, but not mania.

There were no queues of customers waiting to check out the iPhone 5, but retailers were expecting to run out of stocks of the new phone and the iPad Mini mere days after they entered the UAE market.

Many residents had booked ahead for the latest iteration of the iPhone and collected it on Thursday or yesterday.

In stores, the debut of Apple's latest appeared low-key with blue and white signages for the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy S III and the Nokia Lumia 920 outnumbering advertisements for the iPhone. Few stores apart from the official Apple retailers iStyle and Virgin even had the phone on display.

That did not bother tourists and residents who carefully unwrapped their purchases from compact black or white boxes.

"I just love Steve Jobs so I must buy this," said Mudassar Hewadpal, a Turkish tourist on a three-day visit to the UAE with his family.

"I like the design, speed, I like everything."

Apple had announced that the UAE would be among 50 countries - also including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar - to receive the device this weekend. The phone went on sale in the United States in September.

Some residents are checking data packages before making a purchase.

"Everyone in my family has an iPhone or iPad because they get the older version when I buy the new one, " said Jeevan D'mello, a real estate industry professional who will assess offers on Etisalat and du before making up his mind.

"It makes more sense to buy the iPhone 5 from telecom companies here because you get added benefits and they have promotions that work out well. I'm an Apple fan and I've bought all versions of the phones and the ipads. I like to keep pace with technology and the new phone has 4G connectivity, better speed and a wider screen."

He swears by the new iPad Mini that he purchased on a trip to the United States.

"I use the iPad for office presentations as a business tool and it's great because it slips into the jacket pocket. It's very light and has all the functionalities of an iPad but it's a portable version," he said.

Retailers said they were running out of stock.

"People have paid advances, there is terrific demand. Our stock of iPad Minis will last until the end of trading on Friday and iPhone 5 stocks will last the weekend," said Nadeem Khanzadah, the general manager of retail at Jumbo Electronics.

"There is a cool factor in purchasing any new Apple product and Apple fans must buy all new iconic tools - that is their psychology. Then the next wave will start when the phone becomes mainstream and others who plan to change their phone decide to buy it."

The festival season also fuelled purchases.

"We've already sold more units of the iPhone 5 than purchases in the entire Gitex shopping period," said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics.

"There is always a buzz with Apple. It has been a good, strong introduction for the phone and the iPad Mini. Now it's a question of getting enough supply. Plus with the festive season, other companies like Samsung are stepping up advertising. This is a crucial gifting period and a time when a lot of buying and influencing happens."

There were some new converts too.

"It looks good, it's slim, the camera is great and the screen is bigger," said Adel Assi, a Canadian-Lebanese engineer who bought the iPhone 5 for his wife.

"I'm actually a Blackberry person and I don't like these touch screens, but sometimes, I think it's time to move on."