iPhone 6 and Apple Watch launch expected to create massive demand in the UAE

However, retailers say a closer official release date in the Emirates will mean a reduced demand for phones purchased on the grey market.

Retailers in the UAE say that a smaller window for the grey market means instant demand for the new smartphone may not be as high Glenn Chapman / AFP Photo
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DUBAI // Huge demand is expected in the UAE for the new iPhone 6, which was launched by Apple in the United States last night.
The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus come in screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, along with rounded edges and a thinner frame than earlier models, as well as higher-resolution displays.
Apple also unveiled its long-anticipated smartwatch - the Apple Watch - to a standing ovation when it was unveiled at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts near Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California. It's the first new product to be developed and introduced under chief executive Tim Cook's reign. A mobile payments system and health partnerships were also unveiled.
Speaking before last night's announcement, retailers had expected the phone to be released in the UAE in four to five weeks, therefore they did not believe demand for grey-market versions would be as high.
"I'm sure there will be some people who will want it straight away," said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for Jacky's.
"They will likely pay a premium and then they will see their friend with the same phone a couple of weeks later having bought it after it's official release at a much lower price."
In previous years Apple did not officially launch its new phones in the Emirates until months after going on sale in the US.
As a result, grey market prices often exceed Dh10,000 for one handset.
However, as the official version is going on sale much sooner, tech fans should be more willing to wait just a few extra weeks.
The new iPhones comes with a custom A8 64-bit processor, which Apple said is 25 per cent faster than the chips in previous models. The phones comes with a new motion processor for fitness and health-related applications. Apple said more than 200 carriers support the new handsets.
"We've seen the success that the larger-screened phones from Samsung have had in the market and I think we'll finally have a response from Apple," said Mr Panjabi.
"Many of the other brands have stolen a march on Apple because the larger screen has become very popular, particularly in the Far East."
A new app that monitors the users heart rate and other health issues has already been announced as part of the phone's new iOS 8 operating system.
"I'm not sure if this app will be fully operational in our region," said Mr Panjabi.
"These services tend to be focused more on the United States and Europe, so I'm not sure if they will be as attractive to someone planning to buy in the UAE."
The iPhone's relatively poor battery performance has also made many people switch to Samsung and it is an area Mr Panjabi hoped the new phone would address.
"If the phone is bigger, then it will have a larger battery but, at the same time, a larger screen also uses up more energy but perhaps they can optimise it to be more efficient," he said.
As for the new Apple Watch that was announced, he said: "If you look back at the iPad, initially many people just said it was a larger version of an iPhone, but it's much more than that and people use it in a different way," he said. "That might well happen with this product.
"Maybe in future it could be used as a way of paying for metro rides by swiping the watch across the turnstiles.
"It needs to be more than just a smartphone on your wrist, it needs to have a defining application, which will probably come further down the line."
The price of the new phone is expected to be between Dh2,500 and Dh3,000, although it may rise with the initial high demand.
Omar Abushaban, operations manger for Plug-ins, said it was a crucial launch for Apple as many people were waiting for a "transformational" product.
"The wrist device might be that but we will have to wait and see," he said.
Plug-Ins had no initial plans to stock grey-market versions of the new iPhone but will review the situation based on demand.
"People as a whole have realised that not only are you paying more for grey-market products but they may not be fully covered by the warranty," he said.
"With the release dates getting closer to the US, you'll see less and less people opt for grey market."