'Unlocked' iPhone available in India ahead of its official launch

Bangalore September 27 2012: Indian online shopping store and home of so called ‘Steaming Hot Daily Deals’ --Bhaap.com -- is the first Indian online shopping portal to offer the iPhone 5 , ahead of its formal launch by Apple here. It is available for 24 hours from 10 am on September 28 2012 on thie web portal www.bhaap.com  . The asking price for an unlocked iPhone 5 starts at Rs 71,995 for the 16 GB version.

IndiaTechOnline comments on the IPhone’s announced features -- by Anand Parthasarathy
The fifth edition of iPhone offers just enough wow-factor elements to keep Apple's archetypal customer happy in spite of the stiff asking price , but for more dispassionate and discerning buyer, iPhone 5 might seem like a combo of incremental, rather than radically new, features. The screen size is now 4 inches -- but the pixels-per-inch is the same as the earlier 4S model. The 8 megapixel camera too is not more powerful -- but has improved low light and panorama features.
Users who are migrating from earlier iPhone will find the new avatar much lighter at 112 gms -- so it's a case of old phone -- plus some bells-and-whistles in a noticeably sleeker package. To achieve the savings in weight, Apple has introduced a much smaller port for connectivity -- the Lightning Port-- which will force almost all buyers to pay extra for an adapter before they are able to use external speakers or other standard accessories that may come with a micro USB connector.
It is typical of Apple's attitude which has always been --my way or the highway! So buyers will have to straight away scramble to find a Lightning adapter which could an extra Rs 1500-Rs 2000. The same mindset is at work when it comes to such an important element like the SIM card. iPhone 5's SIM slot is made for the tiny "Nano SIM", smaller than what we in India are used to, smaller even than the micro SIM that is common in Europe and the Far East.
So any one bringing an iPhone5 to India from the 31 countries where it is now sold, will find that the phone is unusable -- till one or more Indian mobile providers offer their services on a Nano SIM. Indeed this may be the reason why the iPhone 5 may not be officially available in India till the Third Wave of launches that could be around late October.
The asking price in India is expected to be between Rs 45,000 -- Rs 55,000 depending on the size of the in-built storage -- 16, 32 or 64 GB( the priced quoted by websites offering it in India ahead of the official launch is closer to Rs 80,000) Even at that price, the iPhone5 may have takers in India among its well heeled hard core fans -- but it may not significantly increase the market share of Apple smart phones in India which has been around 1.5 %.
The biggest discernible change might be the new iPhone's ability to exploit the fastest connectivity in the world today -- which is called Long Term Evaluation (LTE) or 4G. This is theoretically five times faster than 3G and capable of download speeds of 100 MBPS. In practice 4G users in India -- currently restricted to Airtel subscribers in Bangalore and Kolkata but soon to be available in most regions from multiple providers -- will be lucky if they obtain speeds average speed that are around 50 MBPS. It will take 4G to realize the full potential of the iPhone 5.

Another fact of life in India is that the iPhone will have to compete in the market not just with Samsung's Galaxy S-III, but with HTC's One X and Nokia's Lumia 920 ( the last will become available in October). All of them have larger screens ranging from the Lumia's 4.5 inch to the Galaxy's 4.8 inch. The lay user may not bother about such things but the Galaxy S III and HTC One X are fuelled by quad core processors to the iPhone 5's dual core. Nokia's Lumia 920 offers possibly the most sophisticated camera on a smart phone today -- an 8,7 Megapixel Carl Zeiss optics-fuelled system.

The biggest surprise is that Apple's iPhone 5 has brushed aside the trend to incorporate NFC or Near Field Communication technology in the handset. This is almost standard with high end smart phones ( Galaxy S III, OneX and Lumia 920 all have it) and may soon appear in the cheaper feature phones this year -- because it will drive new generation mobile wallet applications. It will be the ultimate ( and a delicious!) irony if buyers of the iPhone5 in India are forced to carry a second handset costing Rs 5000 so that they can tap-and-pay in the new way at supermarkets or make contact-less transactions at ATMs. This is the way the world is moving forward -- and India is poised to be a leader in NF -driven transaction by mobile phone, as this will bring a huge advantage to rural masses who are challenged by normal ATM operations which require one to remember and enter a PIN. Eat your heart out iPhone 5 owners! Your 'bai' or driver has the technology edge on you -- at one tenth the price you paid.

Anand has been quoted in brief in this week’s issue of The Wek magazine in their story on iPhone 5 http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgibin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?programId=1073754899&contentId=12456075&BV_ID=@@@