Launch of Apple’s Latest iPhone Leaves Some With Bad Taste

Hundreds of tech-savvy Cambodians flocked Friday morning to the official sales launch of Apple’s new iPhone 6 in Phnom Penh, but many were left empty-handed due to stock shortages, while some of those who did pick up the gadget feared the Thai packaging meant their phones were inferior to the Singaporean imports they were expecting.

More than 500 people lined up on Monivong Boulevard outside the headquarters of Smart, the mo­bile operator that shares ex­clusive rights with retailer iOne to sell the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which retail here for between for between $774 and $1,130. 

Hundreds of customers wait outside the Phnom Penh headquarters of mobile phone operator Smart on Monivong Boulevard on Friday morning for the official release of Apple's new iPhone 6. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Hundreds of customers wait outside the Phnom Penh headquarters of mobile phone operator Smart on Monivong Boulevard on Friday morning for the official release of Apple’s new iPhone 6. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Tempers flared when, after seeing that the iPhone packaging was designed for the Thai market, a number of customers who had pre-or­dered the phone demanded their $20 deposit back, while others were left frustrated that some iPhone 6 models were already out of stock.

“I need my money back, I have been cheated by Smart company,” said one angry customer, 32-year-old Chea Sophorn, who stormed up the office stairs, banged the front desk and called for a refund of the $20 he paid last month.

“They told me the iPhone 6 would be from Singapore and but now its a Thai product.”

Van Den, 28, said he queued since 7 a.m., an early-morning move he regretted.

“I would not even have ordered it if I had known it would be from Thailand,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference later in the morning, Smart CEO Thomas Hundt sought to appease customers who were confusing the product’s packaging with provenance.

“I don’t think we have ever stated that we will bring [the iPhones] in from Singapore or anywhere else because ultimately, from a consumer perspective, it doesn’t matter, they are all fully official products from Apple,” he said.

“We are importing from Apple. Apple is giving us stock and they are all coming literally from the same factory in China.”

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