iPhone 5 to make official Vietnam debut in October

TN News

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Local wireless carriers Viettel and Vinaphone have announced plans to sell the new iPhone 5 in Vietnam next month, saying they will undercut unofficial sellers who are offering the device for up to US$1,200.

News website VnExpress reported Friday that military-run Viettel was about to ink a deal with Apple Inc. to distribute the phone in Vietnam. The country is not on Apple's priority list so sales will begin later than in other markets, a source from Viettel said.

State-run Vinaphone said it has already finalized a contract to sell the phone in October. No official date was announced.

The iPhone 5, which is thinner and has larger screen than its predecessor, went on sale in stores across Asia, Europe and the US on Friday. Prices in the US start at $199 for a 16 GB model with a service contract, and $649 without contract.

Immediately following the Friday release, many phone shops in Vietnam started selling the phone, saying they bought the device from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Due to the small supply, the unofficial prices ranged up to $1,200 apiece for the 16 GB model, or more than 80 percent higher than what US consumers are paying.

While the phone is still considered a luxury product by most people in Vietnam, where per capita income was around $1,300 last year, its release has been closely followed by the country's young, tech-savvy population.

One phone shop in downtown Ho Chi Minh City said that it moved 15 units per day over the weekend.

The new phone requires network carriers to switch to a smaller SIM card called the nano-SIM. However, VnExpress reported that the regular SIM being used in Vietnam can be cut and resized easily to fit the new phone.

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