Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, has made it to Indian markets 42 days after its US launch. Priced at Rs 45,500 onwards, the device is being heavily promoted by telecom operators and large-format retail stores across the country.
Apple India has brought in national distributors Redington India and Ingram Micro for the first time to retail its smartphones. Earlier, Apple preferred the telecom operator-led distribution, where Aircel and Airtel sold the iPhones.
With the phone grabbing attention across Apple's premium resellers (like Imagine Stores and Reliance's iStores) and online retailers (like Indiatimes Shopping and Saholic, among others) boasting of pre-orders and are offering free home deliveries, many customers are opting to list their 12-18-month-old iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S for resale. Prices for these begin at Rs 19,000.
Kapil Dahiya, an iPhone 4 owner, who has listed his white iPhone 4 on online classified sites Quikr and OLX for Rs 19,000, says, "I bought the iPhone 4 in August last year and now that the iPhone 5 is in the market, I am eager to upgrade the device. But Apple, as a brand, has great aspirational value for many and so I am reselling it." Dahiya, who listed the phone online yesterday, says he's already got a buyer willing to pay the asking price.
With the iPhone 5 in the market, many buyers are also willing to put their money on older iPhone models, since they feel the deal offered by several shops and online stores makes the handset affordable. Anil Khetri, a financial planner in Gurgaon, is planning to buy an iPhone 4S from an e-commerce site for Rs 37,000. "When the iPhone 4S was launched in India, the 16GB model was listed for Rs 44,500. Today, I'm getting the same device nearly Rs 8,000 cheaper and it comes with the same version of the mobile operating system (iOS6) that's on iPhone 5 and even the same number of apps," he reasons.
At Apple retail stores, a brand new iPhone 4S now starts at Rs 38,500, while the iPhone 4 starts at Rs 26,500. An older model, the 3GS, retails at about Rs 15,000 on many online stores.
The iPhone 5 is the first Apple smartphone with a four-inch screen that features the high-speed long-term evolution network (LTE). The phone also features a new quad-core A6 processor, an enhanced camera infrastructure, as well as a mini-dock connector. "Demand for the iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get one into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible," noted Apple CEO Tim Cook in an official release, when Apple announced it had sold over five million iPhone 5 models within three days after its launch on September 21.
According to CyberMedia Research (CMR), during the January-June period, total India shipments of mobile handsets was 102.4 million units and smartphones at 5.5 million units. Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst at CMR's telecom practice, says, "The first half of CY2012 was witness to the high-decibel launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, et al. The second half of CY2012 continues to see the launch of a number of high-value, aspirational smartphone models, such as the Nokia Lumia 910, Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Apple iPhone 5. This push from vendors and the increasing maturity of the Indian mobile subscriber community is expected to further push smartphones as a proportion of the total mobile handset shipments in the country in the next few quarters."