UAE shoppers have been seeing some aggressive promotions on smartphones, with even older models vying for attention. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: While UAE’s shoppers prepare for next week’s AI-enabled new iPad arrival, the local tech gadget market has been seeing a flood of slightly older Apple models – the iPhone series from 11 to 14.

These older iPhone models are being promoted aggressively on online channels, targeted at shoppers looking for a smartphone upgrade but not willing to spend on the latest version, the iPhone 15. The price difference between the older models and the latest is as high as 20-30 per cent, depending on the retailer and the model’s specifics.

There has also been an accompanying price drop on the latest smartphones in the market, by 10-15 per cent as tech retailers try to boost consumer demand.

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“Global shipments of mobile phones increased 8 per cent in Q1-2024 - there is a possibility that the entire increase in shipments may not have been absorbed by the markets,” said Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Eros Group. “This has resulted in overstocking and a drop in prices.

“Apple and Samsung both have ample supplies of their flagship phones. That has meant there are times when some or the other retailer in the UAE has come down on prices to move inventory.”

All through the first four months of 20024, retail prices on smartphones have been under pressure in the UAE. Even the recently introduced Samsung Galaxy S24 is showing a 10-12 per cent drop in prices, again depending on the retailer. (The model, with extensive AI-enabled features, has been the biggest consumer hit during this period.

Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai-headquartered Eros Group
"Tablet sales have been much slower compared to mobiles - a lack of any innovation or upgrades have meant lower demand. We hope that will change with the new iPad", says Rajat Asthana of Eros Group.

Older iPhone versions

But the rampant availability and aggressive offers on slightly older iPhone variants have come as quite a surprise. It was highly visible during the many online and store-based promotions during last month’s Eid promotions.

The older iPhone models are getting shipped into the UAE from India, Europe and elsewhere. Image Credit: Supplied

“We are seeing two kinds of UAE smartphone buyers these days – those who will pay a premium for a new smartphone, but with AI features,” said Saleem Javed, Managing Director of Touch Tel. “And those who just want a smartphone upgrade, but not to the latest. This is why Apple iPhones from 11-14 are having their moment in the UAE and Gulf markets right now.

“Even though there are generous discounts available, smartphone and gadget demand in the UAE has been on the slow side (except during the Samsung S24 launch phase.)”

"Things which matter most in any new device is a poweful battery, AI capabilities and display. That’s what the new iPad promises", says Saleem Javed of Touch Tel. Image Credit: Supplied

Can the new iPad deliver?

This is why there’s been such a buzz around Apple’s launch of the new iPad, which comes with quite a few eye-catching AI enhancements, according to tech analysts. On the UAE pricing, the top-of-the-line 13-inch iPad Pro starts at Dh5,499 and the 11-inch Pro at Dh4,199. (There is also the Air version, starting from Dh2,499 for the 11-inch and Dh3,299 for the 13.)

“The first of these in the UAE will be available from May 15, and the market will look for an instant boost because of the many upgrades Apple has brought in,” said Asthana. “Apple has not disappointed this time with its upgraded tablets. The new additions should help it maintain its lead over the competition in the UAE market.”