Stock Smartphone
Who's ready for an upgrade? This Eid holidays, UAE tech retailers are hoping enough shoppers will be convinced about trading up. And there are some hefty discounts and trade-in options available. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Discounts and trade-in incentives on latest smartphones and tablets are at the most shopper-friendly levels as UAE retailers take on stocks being dumped and often being sold without warranty. Since mid-March, current-generation Apple iPhone and iPad prices have seen cuts of up to Dh1,000, while on the recently released Samsung Galaxy S23 and other models, more incentives are available.

This weekend will be even more crucial to boost smartphone sales, as Gulf visitors pour into Dubai and the UAE to spend the Eid holidays. Chances are many of them would also be looking for upgrades on the models they are using. And UAE tech retailers are ready for that.

“Apart from discounts, the emphasis is on trade-ins to encourage shoppers to upgrade,” said Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai-headquartered Eros Group. “What we have been seeing in the last 3 years is that smartphone users with premium models – costing $800-$1,000 – tend to hold them for longer, up to 36-40 months.”

Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai-headquartered Eros Group
The demand for premium handsets endures, and that's why the Eid promotions are vital to get these users to upgrade, says Rajat Asthana of Eros.

This Eid, retailers are hoping the prices on offer will tempt shoppers to finally hand in their phone and buy new.

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Dumping mobiles

Official brand retailers and distributors will be hoping to catch more than a decent spike in sales in the coming days. Competition from online sellers and small mobile retailers have built up in intensity since mid-January. Stocks of the latest iPhone, in-demand brands such as those from Xiaomi and Google’s Pixel that have gone unsold in other markets are finding their way here. In bulk.

And being sold at steep discounts, provided the buyer is willing to forego warranty support. Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer at Jacky’s Electronics, says by now shoppers who opt for these choices should know what they are getting into.

Ashish Panjabi, Jacky's Group
Buying pricey smartphones without warranty through online portals or at store is ill-advised - however low the price is, according to Ashish Panjabi of Jacky's.

“The customer has to take responsibility when purchasing these stocks,” said Panjabi. “Especially when bought online or from popular marketplaces, they may not be aware whether these are official UAE stock from authorized channels or parallel/grey stocks. Best way is to buy from channels you trust.

“(On non-warranty products), these goods generally are from other regions so don't have official warranties for the UAE and may lack necessary TDRA approvals.”

More caution would serve the shopper better – if the intention is to shell out anything over Dh2,000 for a premium model.

Discounts come in earlier

According to retailers, what’s surprising about the current discounts – especially on the iPhone 14 – is that it would be September/October before the next version comes to market. Typically, discounts on a current model would be there only close to a launch – and when enough stocks can be guaranteed of that.

On the iPhone 14, this dynamic change. “From an under-supply situation even as recently as December last, stocks of the Apple model has reached a near over-supply point now,” said Asthana. “That’s because we are seeing unsold shipments coming into the UAE not just from Asia or Europe, but from other Gulf/Middle East markets.

“Retailers in the UAE had to counter by dropping prices where they can and through more trade-in options. Including staggered payments under Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) schemes.”

Weak demand

On the demand side, it’s the premium handsets that continue to generate solid demand – whether it’s the Galaxy S23 or the iPhone’s Pro Max versions. “On mid-range and lower priced models, the demand has taken quite a big hit since January,” said a retailer. “Even the initial weeks of Ramadan didn’t change that despite the promotions. The hope is these categories too can see some demand during Eid.”

The next four days of Eid will then be the time for retailers to make a convincing case. Upgrade your mobile will be their message.