UAE's Long Wait for iPhone Ends Today

DUBAI - iPhone fans plan to be through retailers’ doors as they open for the popular Apple device’s official launch in the UAE on Sunday.

By Emily Meredith

Published: Mon 23 Feb 2009, 1:35 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:33 AM

The UAE will be among the first countries in the Middle East to offer the iPhone. It will also be launched in Saudi Arabia today.

The phone was first launched in the US on June 29, 2007, and unlocked versions of the phone, which are not restricted to a telecom provider, have been used in the UAE.

An Etisalat release on Saturday detailed, under one plan for an 8GB phone, an initial cost of Dh 2,646 and a monthly bill of Dh199, including 125 minutes of national calls, 125 local text messages and 500 MB per month.

The contract is for a minimum of one year after which the subscriber can switch to another service provider.

Shufflegazine Dubai managing editor Magnus Nystedt, said the attraction of the iPhone through service provider Etisalat was the warranty provided. Apple voids the warranty on a phone that has been unlocked.

“It’s very likely I’ll be at the store at 9 or 10 in the morning,” he said.

“If it’s an unlocked iPhone, the price seems to make sense because they seem to sell from Dh2,400.”

Nystedt, also founder and president of EmiratesMac Apple User Group, said he has an unlimited 10 GB data plan in both his current blackberry and iphones and he typically uses 3-4 GBs per month, emailing, watching videos and using programmes like twitter.

“I would guess that most users would not go over that (2GB limitation) if you just check email once in a while,” Nystedt said.

While members of the Dubai-based EmiratesMac Apple User Group welcomed the plan to introduce an iPhone-ready package, they said the data limitations are a downside to iPhone’s availability. “The data package is very costly,” said Vankatesh Sridhar, a member of EmiratesMac and the owner of a local IT firm. “The whole point of having the iPhone 3G is to be able to browse the Internet on a much more friendly user interface.”

“I mean, see for a price of Dh185 or Dh295 per month, I can get an unlimited package (for a blackberry).”

Sridhar explained that the same interface that makes the iPhone preferable for browsing is also more data intensive, so he suspects the iPhone package could get very expensive very quickly.

Etisalat chief marketing officer Essa Al Haddad said the company is “delighted to be one of the first operators in the region to offer this to our customers”.

Apple’s interface uses applications which appear similar to their computer counterparts, easing the transition to mobile computing.

Etisalat’s 3G mobile broadband network offers download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload speed of 1.9 Mbps.

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