Cambodians are paying as much as double the retail value of Apple’s newest iPhone in order to get ahold of the coveted device ahead of their official launch in the country.
At a half-dozen mobile phone shops around Phnom Penh’s Central Market on Monday, vendors were selling unlocked models of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for between $890 and $1,600. Last week, prices at some shops reached $2,500.
The grey-market iPhones were purchased abroad to be distributed in Cambodia and therefore come with no Apple warranty.
“We’re sold out and are waiting for more,” said the manager of one shop, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals from his superiors.
“The owners [of the shop] have relatives who live overseas in America and…they brought them here,” the manager said, adding that the shop had sold more than 30 iPhone 6s so far.
Employees at other phone shops said they received the devices from Hong Kong. The majority said they started selling the new iPhones on September 21.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus —which the company touts as having larger screens and thinner profiles than their predecessors—were officially released in the U.S. on September 19 with a price tag of between $199 and $949, depending on the model and storage capacity, and whether they are under contract.
Regionally, the phones are available only in Singapore. They retail there for between $774 and $1,130.
In Cambodia, Apple has only two authorized distributors of the iPhone, mobile operator Smart and retailer iOne.
Smart CEO Thomas Hundt said the company’s stores would begin selling the newest iPhones in November.
“Beginning in early November 2014, both models will be available for purchase in all Smart shops nationwide,” Mr. Hundt said in an email.
“Official prices will be announced on October 8. Customers can expect a standard retail price. Forget the grey market’s overcharging. iPhones purchased at Smart also carry an official, one-year warranty.”
At the Hakse phone shop near Central Market on Monday, 33-year-old Rith Vanna said he had purchased the cheapest iPhone 6, the 16-gigabyte version, for $890.
“I don’t want to wait until iOne starts selling it. I want to use it immediately,” he said.
“If I wait to buy for the warranty, it’s too long.”
Apple spokeswoman Fiona Martin declined to comment.
© 2014, Sek Odom. All rights reserved.