New iPhone pre-orders open in UAE: Will it make a splash in pandemic era?

Product deliveries of Apple's new phone to begin on April 24, says major electronics retailer

A man shows the new iPhone 11 during the opening of Mexico's first flagship Apple store at Antara shopping mall in Mexico City, Mexico September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Luis Cortes/File Photo

A man shows the new iPhone 11 during the opening of Mexico's first flagship Apple store at Antara shopping mall in Mexico City, Mexico September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Luis Cortes/File Photo

Apple’s latest iPhone is now available to pre-order in the UAE, with the first deliveries to buyers set to begin this week, it has been confirmed.

The second-generation iPhone SE that was unveiled last week starts from $399 in the United States and 1,699 dirhams in the UAE. Customers who want to be the first to get it can book their orders with Apple, as well as du, Etisalat and local retailers.

The new phone is said to be the most affordable handset the American tech giant has released since 2018, and it is equipped with a fingerprint sensor and the best single-camera system in an iPhone.

Pre-orders in the UAE started last April 17 and product deliveries are expected to begin on April 24 onwards at 8 am, according to Jumbo Group, an electronics retailer based out of Dubai.

However, with the economic distress of the coronavirus outbreak, questions have been raised whether the inexpensive model will stir up demand.

According to a new survey conducted on Chinese social media site Weibo, 60 percent of approximately 350,000 respondents said they had no intention to buy the new budget phone. Only a fifth expressed intention to purchase, while the rest said they would consider buying one.

Survey respondents did not say why they would not buy the new phone, but some users indicated they would make a purchase if the prices drop.

According to Pankaj Kumar, head of OmniChannel Retail at Jumbo Group, it is too early to gauge consumer feedback, although he noted they have initially seen significant interest from the UAE market. 

He said the lower price point will be a huge factor in stimulating consumer interest despite the global pandemic.

“We have seen a spike in queries from customers regarding the new iPhone launch,” Kumar told Zawya.

“Although the current situation has seen customers focusing on spending their money on essentials, the very affordable price point for this device gives many budget-conscious consumers a great option to choose from and become part of the iPhone family. We thus expect this iPhone to drive demand in the mobile phones’ category,” Kumar added.

The UAE is one of the biggest markets for smartphones in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with shipments in the country increasing by 9.9 percent in the last quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, according to consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Across the GCC, shipments of Apple devices increased by 22.6 percent during the same period, partly fueled by demand for Apple’s iPhone 11.

Despite the dreary economic outlook, one analyst said some consumers might still open their wallets to get their hands on the new phone. This is particularly true for users with old gadgets.

“The iPhone SE comes at a good price point for new smartphone users but also for those wanting to upgrade from an older iPhone model,” said Annette Zimmerman, research vice president at consultancy Gartner.

“[It’s] good reason for example for those who are still on an iPhone 6,” she said on her Twitter post on Wednesday.

Some Apple fans, however, would rather keep their money than spend it on a new phone, especially during these times of uncertainty.

“I wouldn’t buy it personally. it’s better to save money right now because you don't know what’s coming. But, if you’re on the market for a new phone and you like Apple, iPhone SE is the most sensible option right now. It’s a good product because not everyone can afford the 3,000 to 4,000 UAE dirhams phone. It’s also good for competition in the mid-range mobile phone market,” said Brian T., an Apple user in Dubai.

Among those that have advertised pre-orders so far in the UAE are Apple,  du, Etisalat, LuLu Hypermarkets and Jumbo Electronics.

Those who purchase will have their items delivered to their doorstep. “With current movement restriction imposed by the government, we will be delivering all orders to customers who ordered the latest iPhone. Customers can [pre-order online]. Our stores at Hamdan Street in Abu Dhabi and Oman Street in Ras Al Khaimah are also operational and customers can visit to pre-order the new iPhone,” said Kumar.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)


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© ZAWYA 2020

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