It seems even a three-week wait for the Indian launch of the iPhone 6S and 6s Plus is too long for Delhiites, who are willing to pay big bucks to get their hands on the new Apple smartphones right now.
Since the international launch on September 25, customs officials at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport have seized 180 of the phones — all to be sold in the city’s grey market for over `1 lakh each, sources said.
“The seizures were made from different passengers and most of them were coming from Singapore or Hong Kong. One flyer was caught with 10 new iPhone 6S,” said a customs official at IGIA.
Smuggled handsets are already on sale at Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh, the largest grey market for phones in all of north India.
The phones go on sale in India on October 16 and while there is no official word on pricing, several websites that offer to ship the devices after buying them in other countries are showing a starting price of over `60,000 for the base variant. A listing on EBay’s Global Easy Buy, for instance, puts a price tag of `67,498 on a 16GB iPhone 6S in rose gold — the colour that’s most in demand.
“Smugglers are expected to earn `30,000-50,000 per phone as there is a huge demand in India, especially Delhi. People want to own it as soon as possible,” said the customs official.
If brought through the proper channels, one has to pay 36% of the value of the device as customs duty. “To avoid this duty, passengers are smuggling the iPhones. If they want the seized phone back, they have to pay the duty as well as a penalty,” the official said.
The sources said most of the seized handsets were locked but these can be easily unlocked for R1,000.
Apple said Monday it had sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Pluses in the first weekend they were made available in 12 markets — breaking the previous record of 10 million unit sales set by the iPhone 6 last year.
Such was the frenzy that many across the world camped out for days outside Apple stores.