x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE phone fans pay top dirham to get their hands on the iPhone 5s

UAE residents have the chance to be among the first in the world to buy an iPhone5s – but it won't come cheap.

Arkan krait (right) about to purchase one of the first iphone 5s to be imported into the UAE from online store letstango.com. Duncan Chard for the national. *** Local Caption ***  DC0921-iphone_5s-0003.jpg
Arkan krait (right) about to purchase one of the first iphone 5s to be imported into the UAE from online store letstango.com. Duncan Chard for the national. *** Local Caption *** DC0921-iphone_5s-0003.jpg

Dubai // Twenty-four hours after the iPhone 5s launched in major markets worldwide, imports went on sale in the UAE – and they do not come cheap.

But there was no shortage of fans willing to pay up to Dh7,499 to be among the first in the country to own the gadget.

Many had placed advance orders on shopping websites.

“The demand has been phenomenal and we have already started delivering the phone,” said Vishnu Vardhan, director of letstango.com, a UAE-based website.

The phone launched in the US, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK on Friday.

Apple has yet to announce an official UAE launch date but the phone is available through grey-market imports.

One of the device’s most talked-about features is a fingerprint sensor that unlocks it, removing the need for a passcode. It is also the first mobile phone to run on a 64-bit processor, and there are upgrades to the camera.

Mr Vishnu’s company delivered about 75 devices yesterday and another 25 customers were scheduled to pick the phone up. Three hundred people had ordered the phone – about half of them from Abu Dhabi.

Some retailers, especially small electronic shops, were more cautious and had only a few in stock.

“We only have two devices for now and we are checking the market,” said Raoof Puthiyedath, assistant manager at the Falak Electronics.

“Prices might go down quickly so that is why we are not keeping more in stock, though we have had many people coming and asking about the new phone.”

Gold appears to be the most popular colour for the phone in the UAE.

“The gold is literally selling like gold,” said Parag Metha, operations managers at letstango.com.

About half of the requests his company has received are for the gold version, even though there are limited numbers available.

“There is an estimated 1,500-2,000 devices circulating in the market but only 10 to 15 in gold,” Mr Metha said.

Some people were so eager to get hold of the new phone they were not prepared to wait for delivery.

Tintu Thomas, 28, an Indian working in the IT department in a government entity, was among those who got their hands on the new phone first.

“This is a gift for my wife on her birthday,” he said. “She is a big fan of the iPhone so I thought it would be nice to get it for her.”

Mr Thomas was happy to pay Dh5,299 for the phone. He ordered it online and had the option to have it delivered to his home but he decided he could not wait.

“I had to come and pick it up as it is her birthday tomorrow and I do not want to risk any delays and turn up without a gift,” he said.

Asem Hassna, 34, a Lebanese merchandise manager who bought the device for Dh5,879, also could not wait to get it delivered.

“I am curious to know what the new updates and applications are,” he said. “It is not about getting it first but I am really very excited and want to get to know it.”

For Arkan Kreit, 27, a Syrian buyer, being first was the fun part.

“The best part is to get it first to discover it before the other people. It is not about showing off but I am excited and do not want to wait.”

wissa@thenational.ae