Home > 4G, Asia, Devices, Europe, India, Operators, USA > A comparison of iPhone 5S pricing across the globe

A comparison of iPhone 5S pricing across the globe

In some of the Apple oriented conversations over the past few years with friends, I have often wondered whether the iPhone would have been so popular in the US if it was sold only unlocked and without contract. With a 2 year carrier contract, the 16 GB version of this phone costs about $216 ($199 + taxes). However the same iPhone unlocked would cost $702 ($649 + taxes). These prices could vary slightly from city to city in USA depending on sales tax. Personally, I am not a fan of the 2 year contract, but it is not a bad deal if it saves those hundreds of dollars.

With Apple making iPhone available in more and more geographies every year, it is worthwhile to look at the price of this phone in different countries. Remember, iPhones are sold unlocked in most countries, hence are expensive. The reasons for the varying cost of the same device across different nations could be many like taxes, local policies, number of intermediate distribution channels, transit cost etc. Now absolute iPhone pricing is misleading and tells only the story on the surface. Since $700 in US is not the same as $700 in let us say Spain or China even after currency conversion, it is important to look at the value of a dollar in those countries for an in-depth understanding of this aspect. Taking into account the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is one measure to look at such analysis. PPP is a reliable number to compare economic strength between countries, since it considers important statistics like inflation and cost of living. In this blog post, the above economic figure has been taken from the World Bank’s 2012 data. The following table covers all countries (in alphabetical order) where an online Apple store is functional. Apple has separate pricing for Taiwan and Hong Kong, so they are treated separately here too. Although the company does not sell online directly in India, I brought in numbers for the country since India has been a primary region of focus of this blog along with USA. Prices in the 2nd column are for the 16 GB unlocked version of the phone.

iPhone 5S price comparison

For further analysis, the excel spreadsheet can be downloaded here: iPhone 5S pricing comparison

A close look at the table reveals that within the 40 countries analyzed above, iPhone is the cheapest in US and Japan and the most expensive in Brazil and Turkey. But probably it is easiest on the pocket in Luxembourg and Singapore and conversely weighs heavy on the pocket in India and Vietnam. Before drawing any conclusive arguments, a few observations must be mentioned here. First, this article enlists the iPhone 5S dollar figures based on multiple currency exchange rates as of this writing. That could change on a daily basis. Second, the GDP per capita PPP numbers could differ depending on the source. The economic data has been taken from the World Bank, but if taken from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it would vary. Third, the precise calculation of the strain on the wallet of any customer in a particular nation could depend on many other factors, since Apple targets different income segments in different regions. Lastly, these are only 20% of the countries in the world. While it is unlikely that an unlocked iPhone is cheaper than $650 in any region, it could cost much more than $1000 in some regions. These numbers are neither absolute nor final, but they are a good indicator of what it might mean financially to buy an iPhone in these countries.

  1. wilkus@comcast.net
    Jan 9, 2014 at 5:31 AM

    Thank you for the data, very interesting…. It would be helpful to have the raw local prices in the spreadsheet. As you point out, the exchange rates vary.

  2. Shekhar
    Jan 10, 2014 at 2:57 AM

    This is a very good analysis! The iPhone 5S is priced the highest in countries where it is least affordable (compared to per capita GDP). The pricing seems to be opportunistic and designed to have maximum revenue for Apple!

  3. Jan 10, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Thank you.
    Wilkus, the raw data in terms of local pricing can be accessed from Apple store website in these countries.
    Shekhar, my understanding is that Apple makes a fixed amount of revenue from each iPhone sold. The price variation across various countries is primarily because of factors mentioned in the second paragraph.

  4. Feb 6, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Hey Wirelesstelecom,
    Interesting Thoughts, It should allow for manual input, as I shop at farmer’s markets and websites like Amazon, Vitacost, and Azure standard that would probably require me to input prices manually (no barcodes). Additional features like barcode scanning and voice recognition are great, but I haven’t been able to find anything that lets you simply input price info across multiple stores, at least not in the Apple app store.
    All the Best

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