iPhone X to cost a fortune in Vietnam, even with me-too features

Preorders for Apple’s flagship smartphone cost a staggering US$1,321-$2,200 in Vietnam, a country where the monthly minimum wage is a meager $165

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017.

As with previous iPhone releases, Vietnamese hoping to get their hands on the iPhone X – Apple’s latest flagship device – are able to preorder the phone at double the original price, a number higher than the country’s GDP per capita of $2,185.69.

The U.S. tech firm on Tuesday revealed three new models: the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X.

The 8 and 8 Plus will be available on September 22, followed by the iPhone X, pronounced iPhone ten, six weeks later.

At the launch ceremony, Apple announced that the iPhone 8 will retail from US$699 in the U.S., while the tenth-anniversary iPhone X will sell for a whopping $999.

The iPhone X, Apple’s most expensive iPhone to date, features super retina display, no home button, wireless charging, and Face ID.

While the $999 price tag is considered expensive in the U.S., it is not unusual that preorders are being sold at a premium in Vietnam. 

This time, however, the asking price has reached shocking heights.

Hefty prices

Shortly after the launch, some mobile stores in Vietnam began selling preorders at whopping prices.

“Apple’s smartphones have become so expensive that people will give up their kidneys to own one” has become an increasingly common joke in the U.S., let alone in developing countries like Vietnam.

While it may take months after the official release in the U.S. for the new iPhones to be officially distributed in Vietnam, there are always local fanboys willing to pay a fortune to be the first in the country to own the new devices.

Local mobile retailer CellphoneS is asking VND49.99 million (US$2,200) for an iPhone X 256GB, more than double the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for U.S. consumers.

Another retailer, Hnammobile, lists preorders for the iPhone X 64GB at VND32.99 million ($1,453), and VND36.99 million ($1,630) for the 256GB version.

FPT Shop, an authorized service provider, is listing the iPhone X 64GB and 256GB at VND29.99 million ($1,321) and VND34.79 million ($1,533), respectively. 

However, the retailer says consumers have to wait until later December to be able to buy the officially distributed products.

Many Vietnamese mobile shops and retailers are hiring people to queue for new iPhones on the release date in the U.S. and bring them back to Vietnam in order to serve affluent consumers who cannot wait to get their hands on the new gadgets.

Still, some local consumers find it hard to understand why anyone would spend $2,200 to own an iPhone X just two months before it becomes officially available.

Vietnam’s GDP per capita was $2,185.69, according to 2016 World Bank data.

In India, the money spent on buying an iPhone X is equivalent to taking an overseas trip, covering household expenditure for five months, or buying two iPhone 7s, according to news site Quartz.

The same goes for Vietnam, where the monthly minimum wage is VND3.75 million ($165).

Copycats

According to some tech analysts, the iPhone X may be an evolution of the iPhone in its ten-year history, but it is not an evolution of the smartphone in general.

If you think the tenth-anniversary iPhone looks like the Galaxy S8, Note 8, and some other smartphones released during the past couple of years, that is because it does.

Some of the striking similarities between Apple’s flagship handset with those of its archrival Samsung include the OLED display, face unlock, and edge-to-edge screen.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 also features an edge-to-edge screen.

The iPhone X has no physical home button and boasts the “tap on a screen to wake up” feature, something already seen with the LG G2 launched exactly four years ago or China’s OPPO F1.

Also on Tuesday, China’s Xiaomi unveiled its latest flagship smartphone Mi Mix 2, with a more impressive bezel-less, all-screen display and comparable hardware to any Android flagship smartphones this year.

What is more important is the Mi Mix 2, which is dubbed the ‘iPhone X rival,’ fetches only $500.

In the back of every iPhone, there is a text that reads, “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”

The assembling facility, a 40,000 square meter plant in Longhua Town in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, is run by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., better known by its trade name Foxconn.

In June 2017, The Guardian published an article headlined “Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city,” referring to the Foxconn plant, an alleged sweatshop where workers are reportedly under immense stress, long workdays, and harsh managers.

A series of suicides and attempted suicides broke out at the plant in 2010, causing a media storm, according to The Guardian.

In its June report, the British newspaper quoted a worker known only as Xu as saying that the plant is “not a good place for human beings” and that “there is no improvement since the media coverage [in 2010].”

According to Xu’s account, the work is very high pressure, with employees regularly logging 12-hour shifts while management is both aggressive and duplicitous.

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