Dubai: With more and more merchants and resellers offering unlocked versions of Apple's new iPhone on the grey market in the UAE, questions on the issue of warranty and maintenance arise.

If the iPhone is purchased over online shops or internet retail platforms here, it is sold on an "as is" basis or with limited warranty by the seller, if any. No manufacturer's warranty can be claimed as the phone was not sold by authorised Apple dealers or shops.

"For some buyers this could turn into a problem," Sanjay Amarnani, CEO of the Dubai-based online shopping portal, told Gulf News. "It is not only that claiming the warranty is difficult, the main issue is how the phone was unlocked," he said.

If the iPhone comes in a proven "never locked" or "factory unlocked" status, it can be used without problems and with any SIM card and needs not to be tied to a connection plan of a telecom provider. "But it happens that the iPhone comes on the market after having been unlocked by the sellers themselves," Amarnani says.

The so called "jailbreaking" — a process where Apple's phones are opened, connected to a computer and unlocked by special software tools — can be a blowback for the owner.

"When the owner receives an update from Apple on his phone, it is very likely that the phone will be locked again after restarting it," says Amarnani.

He advises buyers to verify that phones bought on the grey market are definitely "factory unlocked".

"It needs to be checked if the phone has already been opened before it is sold. If so, I advise not to buy it." Apple's iPhone 4 has been available on the grey market in the UAE for about two weeks. Stocks originate from the US, Europe and Asia. Current prices range from Dh3,300 to Dh5,000, depending on the sales channel.

The official launch of the phone is planned for September.