A thriving grey market has done little to dampen anticipation for the official launch of the latest iPhone models in Cambodia, and authorised dealers say consumers are lining up to purchase the new smartphone handsets as soon as they become available.
Apple Inc released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus in a dozen international markets in late September, but the two models will not be officially released in Cambodia until Friday.
Unable to wait, some consumers have resorted to purchasing the new smartphone models from grey market dealers, often paying a high premium for “flipped” handsets.
Smart, one of two authorised iPhone retailers in the Kingdom, said it has received a barrage of orders for licensed handsets since announcing a pre-order booking process on its Facebook page last week.
The option allows Smart subscribers to reserve a handset for purchase on November 13 by putting down a $20 deposit, which is deducted from their account.
“We’re receiving a lot of iPhone 6S and 6S Plus pre-orders from customers every day, and the numbers will be incredible like we saw last year,” said Mith Hak, a public relations specialist for Smart.
The telecom firm ran dry on the first day the iPhone 6, the predecessor model, was released in the Kingdom last year. Hak said this year the company had prepared for high demand.
“For sure, we have enough [handsets] to supply the Cambodian market’s needs,” Hak said, without revealing any details on the size of company’s stock.
He added that Cambodian consumers were eager to purchase or upgrade to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus because these models offer significant improvements over their predecessor including a better camera, faster processor, 3D touch display, stronger body and a new colour option, rose gold.
Smart is offering the iPhone 6S starting at $728 and iPhone 6S Plus from $828. The price depends on configuration, and includes a “special” number and one-year free data offer.
Over at iOne, the other authorised iPhone retailer in Cambodia, a surge in pre-registrations is keeping sales employees busy.
“Pre-registrations are double what we saw last year,” said Kao Damaityma, iOne’s marketing manager.
Unlike Smart, iOne’s pre-registration is open to the general public and customers are not required to make a deposit.
Customers that pre-register at an iOne branch will be notified when the phone arrives and can purchase it without waiting in line. Advertised prices on its handsets are about $30 more expensive than those of Smart.
Damaityma said iOne, which in addition to being a retailer is the sole authorised service centre for all Apple products in Cambodia, is not trying to compete with Smart on sales.
“We have a different target, and offer different benefits [to consumers],” she said.
The approaching date of the official launch of the iPhone handsets has seen grey market prices plummet, but vendors have shown no sign of concern.
Chhim Sang Heng, owner of Hak Se phone shop, said prices of iPhone handsets in his store had fallen since late September and were now slightly below those announced by the local licensed Apple retailers.
“We keep selling iPhones as normal, and will continue to even after Smart and iOne will release the phone,” Sang Heng said.
He added that some customers prefer his stock of US-sourced handsets over those offered by Smart and iOne, which he claimed are shipped from Thailand and Singapore.