Scalpers face slim pickings from iPhones

Top News | Cindy Wan 14 Sep 2018

Scalpers expect speculation to be grim when the first batch of new iPhone models become available in Hong Kong and the mainland.

The 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max can be reserved online from 3.01 pm today and will be sold in stores from next Friday. The 6.1-inch iPhone XR can be reserved online from October 19 and bought at shops a week later.

The phones are updates to last year's iPhone X - stretching the screen while keeping the overall handset size at or near that of previous models.

The most expensive iPhone ever, the XS Max costs HK$9,499, HK$10,799 and HK$12,499 depending on its storage size.

The XS is priced between HK$8,599 and HK$11,599, while the XR, which is the cheapest model, is between HK$6,499 and HK$7,799.

Compared to the prices on Apple's China website, iPhones sold in the Apple Store in Hong Kong are generally 16 percent cheaper because of lower tariffs.

Simon Lam Chun-wai, owner of smartphone retailer Trinity Electronics, said the scalping price depends on the supply over the first few weeks after the iPhones start selling in stores.

"If there is not enough supply for the China market, the prices will skyrocket," Lam said.

"But it is difficult to tell now, considering the stock for iPhone X was sufficient last year.

"As it is a bit cheaper to buy iPhones in Hong Kong than in the mainland, I think we can earn around HK$1,000 by reselling each phone."

Lam plans to buy more XS Max phones than the other two models as he forecasts that consumers will be attracted to its fresh and innovative appearance.

But he admitted the iPhones are more expensive than he expected. No customers have called to ask about the prices yet, he said.

The new iPhones have more powerful processors and cameras, and a dual-SIM card feature for top-of-the-line devices. Home buttons have been replaced with screen swipes, taps and facial recognition capabilities.

Apple will also introduce a fourth generation of the Apple Watch with a major redesign and a series of features designed to improve its performance as a medical and health device.

The smartwatches are able to detect hard falls, and an electrical heart rate sensor can take an electrocardiogram. The fall detection upgrade is expected to appeal to worker-safety concerns in factories or other industrial settings, as well as to elderly or disabled users.

If a person falls, and then is motionless, the watch will call emergency services, he added.

While the iPhone has made Apple the world's most valuable company, worth more than US$1 trillion (HK$7.8 trillion), it has slipped to third place among smartphone makers as Chinese-based Huawei has grabbed the number two spot behind Samsung.

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