Experts predict healthy interest in Apple's new baby but question if customers buying the cheaper iPhone 8 could lose face
At what price will the UAE fall in love with the new iPhone X?
By one measure, the new thousand dollar iPhone X is mid-market smartphone, positioned nicely between the Vsun Aqua Tough Dual Sim Smartphone at Dh199 and the Vertu Signature Touch for Bentley; yours for Dh57,000.
Others may look at the price and echo Steven Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO, whose initial verdict on Apple’s new product back in 2007, was: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
If consumers proved the world’s richest man hopelessly wrong as they rushed to spend US$500 (Dh1830), then what are the prospects for the new four figure iPhone X, which is fooling no-one with an initial price tag of $999 (Dh3,669) in the US, and creeps up to Dh$4,729 (US$1,287) with the 256GB option.
“Even at $1,000 It's going to be sold out for the rest of the year and it will be difficult getting it,” predicts Abbas Jaffar Ali, founder of the UAE tech website Tbreak.
“People will resort to grey markets and pay north of $1,500 for the first 2-3 weeks of launch. According to what I've read, Apple is only able to produce 10,000 units per day for the iPhone X. That's nothing.”
For Ashish Panjabi, a self-styled tech enthusiast with a background in electronics retail, the new products had a number of shortcomings.
In particular, he questioned the value of launching both the iPhone 8 and X models simultaneously, pointing out that buying the former might be interpreted in the UAE market as meaning you could not afford the Ten.
“I wouldn’t want to be the person boasting that I had just bought the iPhone 8,” he said.
Mr Panjabi also noted that many of the new features of the X were already available in other devices, and at a lower price. “A lot of people in the UAE have two phones and I suspect they might keep their iPhone 7 rather than get the 8 and upgrade their Android device.”
Neither Etisalat or Du, the country’s two phone networks, are advertising the iPhone X at present. A call to the Du customer service hotline revealed that the iPhone X will be ready for order on October 27 with delivery a month later, but with no word yet if the company will be offering discounts on handsets if accompanied by a postpaid package.
Both Etisalat and Du are also offering the all-glass iPhone 8, also launched this month, from Friday, with customers taking delivery on September 23.
Since launching the iPhone 6S three years ago, Apple has brought out three new models, while skipping an iPhone 9. The X – meant to be said as “ten” is a nod to the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone.
Apple faces competition, both in terms of cost and features, from the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8, at DhDh3,399 and only a fraction cheaper than the basic iPhone X. Having solved its flammability issues, Samsung will have the first handsets available next week.
What owners will do with the now obsolete – at least in UAE terms – iPhone 6, 6s, 7, or even, for a few unfortunates, the iPhone 5, remains to be seen.
While Apple offers a recycling service in exchange for a store discount or gift card, the second hand market looks set for a boost, with Dubizzle, the online classified advertising site, listing five new pages of Apple phones in the last 24 hours.
Also launched this week are the Oppo A71, at around Dh700, and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 with a price tag of Dh2,600, all with considerably less fanfare and attention than Apple’s new offspring. As they say, other smartphones are available.