Almost every week, we’re asked by people in our community if they should buy the iPhone at a lower price from the US (or some other country). And why not? The savings are substantial, and they can sometimes knock off as much as 20-25% on the list price. And yet, we’ve always advised against it. But not anymore! We’re changing our stance, people, and we have a good reason for doing so.
So far, we’ve asked people to exercise restraint and cough up what we consider a premium price for the iPhone in India. This is because, the iPhone, unlike the Macs and iPads, wasn’t covered by international warranty. So, if something happened to your phone, Apple India would not repair or replace the device if you’d bought it from another country. It didn’t matter if the phone was covered under the one-year warranty period, agar desi nahi to warranty nahi. To our mind, this was just way too much of a risk to justify the savings.
However, everything has changed now. Apple India has announced that the international warranty support has been extended to the iPhones as well. So, buying an iPhone from the US or India is effectively the same when it comes to warranty support.
Wait! There’s a catch. (Of course, there is!)
Before you start calling your friends and family in the US to find out when they’re coming down to India next, make sure you understand that there’s one caveat – the warranty support is valid only for unlocked iPhones. Let me explain what that means.
In many countries, there are two ways in which you can buy iPhones – One is by paying the full price and the other is by getting it on a contract with the cellular service provider.
The carrier contracts are usually for 2 years and you don’t have to pay an upfront cost for the iPhone. Instead, the total cost of the iPhone is divided into monthly instalments and added to your cellular plan amount. In this arrangement, your iPhone is locked with the carrier. If you buy a carrier locked phone from another country, Apple India will not cover it under warranty.
On the other hand, you have iPhones that are available at full price, which are popularly known as factory unlocked phones. As the name suggests, they aren’t tied to any carrier and you are free to use it with any cellular service provider you like. If you buy one of these iPhones, you will get warranty support in India.
Also note that Apple usually launches a new iPhone model with cellular locked options only. So you might have to wait a couple of months till the unlocked versions are available.
Why It’s Such a Big Deal … But Not for Everyone
Not every iPhone buyer in India has the option of bringing back an iPhone from a foreign country. Neither does everyone have a ‘jugaad’ in place. But for those who do, this is a great opportunity, simply because the price difference is massive! Take the latest iPhone X for example. Here’s a chart showing its pricing around the world. As you can see, India is third highest in the list. You’ll pay almost Rs. 25,000 lesser in the US for exactly the same device. That’s more than 25% saving!
We have to admit that the policy change by Apple India has come as a big surprise for us. We didn’t expect Apple to smoothen the iPhone import process; they were pushing for more sales in India, or so we thought.
But when you think about it, it’s quite a smart move. Like we mentioned earlier, only a small percentage of iPhone buyers in India will be able to take advantage to this change. So Apple is making one segment of the market very happy without disrupting the others. That’s the marketer’s favourite Win-Win situation.
Also, the sales will not suffer. If anything, it will increase as more people will be tempted to buy the iPhone that they felt was just too expensive in India. To cite a personal experience, I had no intention of buying the iPhone X. The pricing is just ridiculous. No matter how amazing the new design maybe, I am going to spend 89k on a phone. But now suddenly there is an option to buy it for 65k from the US. Still high, but just maybe 🙂