Recently, a UK retailer of unlocked mobile phones, Mobile Unlocked, created a very well compiled map of the world with certain countries’ iPhone prices. While they certainly didn’t cover all of the world, they definitely get high marks for trying their best. Some of their most notable omissions are Brazil and Israel, where I know for a fact that iPhones are ludicrously expensive compared to the $700 price in the US.
They nicely sorted the map into price of phone respective to GDP (wealth of the country, for the most part) and the price in dollars. They also created a map with sales tax or VAT (value added tax) excluded to account for any kind of import tariffs a country’s government may be putting on the devices. They then did the same in GDP in respect to Pounds (GBP) and in Pounds. Obviously the maps don’t really change in terms of currency, but they’re easier to understand for some people that don’t get the value of the US Dollar. We’ve included the images below, but their interactive map is far more precise and gives you exact numbers.
Here, you can see the price of the iPhone in most of Europe, Asia and North America with Africa and South America almost entirely excluded. This price includes both the price of the phone and the tax included in dollars. The most expensive countries are Jordan, Turkey and Romania. Although, I would argue that countries like Brazil, Argentina and Israel also have outrageously high prices but aren’t accounted for. Part of the reason is that in some countries, Apple cannot distribute their own products and must go through a distributor who ends up also being the reseller. They tack on their own middleman fee and then resell the device to consumers, plus any applicable taxes on the new, higher, price.
In fact, if you go to Apple’s own Brazilian site the company sells the iPhone 5S 16GB for an equivalent of $1200, that’s more than $100 more than Jordan. In Israel, you can’t buy Apple products directly through Apple themselves so you have to buy the phone from a carrier or an iPad/Macbook from iCon Group (ironic name, no?). If you go to the Pelefone carrier and buy a phone, they will sell it to you for the equivalent of $1052, which means that it would put Israel very close to Jordan in terms of price. Which admittedly isn’t surprising considering their proximity and the likelihood that Jordan has the same situation.
Now, if you exclude tax, the prices in Europe seem to go down drastically. It seems to knock off about $100 in price for most of the most expensive countries, but once again Jordan and Turkey are the two most expensive, with Malta replacing Romania.
Moving on from the overall price, you can see the price relative to the country’s GDP, which is usually calculated per capita in order to roughly figure out the ‘affordability’ of the devices to the general population.
Here is where things change quite a bit. India now takes the top spot for the most expensive relative to GDP per capita which isn’t surprising considering that India is not nearly the economic powerhouse that China is, but with a similar population resulting in a much lower GDP per Capita. As such, the iPhone’s cost accounts for nearly 22% of the country’s GDP per capita (based on 2012 figures). Next comes Vietnam for similar reasons to India, except for the fact that Vietnam isn’t necessarily a high GDP country to begin with. So, as a result their GDP per capita is already pretty low, accounting for their 20% figure. Unsurprisingly, Jordan comes in third after Vietnam, since they aren’t necessarily an economic powerhouse and they have the most expensive iPhones on this map (even though we’ve proven Brasil is more expensive). If you calculate Brazil’s GDP per Capital ~ $11,000 and the price of their iPhone 5S ($1200) then their number of 10.9% is nowhere near as bad as India’s 22%.
Overall, this iPhone 5S map is a good example of what’s wrong with the global economy and the fact that the iPhone 5S is pretty much only a luxury good for the ultra wealthy in places where they are the most expensive and ‘unreachable’. Clearly Apple understands that the iPhone is a luxury brand and they aren’t going to remedy this pricing issue any time soon. Its just sad to see places like Brazil almost paying 2X what people in the US pay for exactly the same device.