Hong Kong mobile operators see solid demand for new iPhones

Three local operators are bracing for brisk business from subscribers when the new 5s and 5c smartphones from Apple are released tomorrow

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 4:21am

Apple's three biggest mobile-carrier partners in Hong Kong expect to do brisk business with the release of the technology giant's latest iPhone models from tomorrow.

Unfazed by the tepid reviews at last week's launch, CSL, Three Hong Kong and SmarTone Telecommunications said yesterday they had seen solid market interest in Apple's new flagship iPhone 5s and the lower-priced 5c models.

CSL, which runs Hong Kong's largest wireless network with 3.89 million subscribers at the end of June, said its premium 1010 unit and mass-market one2free brands were "processing strong pre-orders" for the 5c, which offers five colour options. There are no 5s pre-orders in the city.

Three Hong Kong, with 3.78 million subscribers at the end of June, said: "Pre-registration response has been enthusiastic and customer inquiries have poured in every day since our pre-registration webpage was launched."

All three operators declined to provide pre-order numbers because of non-disclosure agreements with Apple.

That restriction apparently did not apply to mainland carrier China Unicom, which announced on Tuesday that its online reservations for the iPhone 5s and 5c models had surpassed 100,000 units.

The gold-coloured version of the 5s sold out immediately in Hong Kong and on the mainland, Agence France-Presse reported. It added that Apple's Hong Kong website took down the link to the 5s pre-order page yesterday, saying reservations would resume on Saturday.

On the mainland's online Apple Store, prices for the 5c start at 4,488 yuan (HK$5,684) for the 16-gigabyte model, while those for the 5s with the same capacity start from 5,288 yuan. Hong Kong's online Apple Store shows the 16GB 5c costs HK$4,688, while the 5s is priced from HK$5,588.

Technology research firm IHS forecasts Apple to ship 86.1 million iPhones in the second half of the year, up 25 per cent from 68.7 million in the first half. It said Apple's estimated 154.8 million iPhone shipments this year could receive a boost if China Mobile decided to carry the new models.

Douglas Li, the chief executive of SmarTone, with 1.82 million subscribers at the end of June, said he expected the new iPhone models to "provide unmatched experience" to users in Hong Kong.

A SCMP staffer's online review yesterday described the 5s as "the most advanced smartphone in the world".