iPhone 4 available in India again, but Apple won't call it a 'relaunch'

iPhone 4 available in India again, but Apple won't call it a 'relaunch'
There has been much excitement in the Indian press about Apple supposedly relaunching the iPhone 4 in India. Several media outlets have expressed dismay and derision at news of the company supposedly trying to push the four-year-old model because sales of the high-priced iPhone 5s and 5c aren't meeting expectations. The price of the "new" iPhone 4 (with only 8GB of storage capacity) has been reported to be anywhere between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 23,000.

We can now confirm that while fresh stocks have arrived in the market, Apple has no plans to call it a relaunch. The iPhone 4 (8GB) has been available for months at several stores and online retailers, although stocks had run out in some cases. The current official MRP is Rs 22,900, although stores are offering it for around Rs. 21,999. Furthermore, we hear that distributors are offering incentives to bulk buyers that could allow prices to fall to Rs. 19,999 in the near future.

Apple itself refuses to comment on speculated launches, but other well-placed sources in the industry confirm that the iPhone 4 is no longer being manufactured. Sales have continued only because stocks still exist, and there are no plans to push the iPhone 4 as a budget-friendly model.

The iPhone 4 is still actively being sold in China, even through Apple's official website. There, it is priced at 2,588 Yuan (approximately Rs. 26,508, which is roughly the same as its official price in India last year).

Our source indicates that Apple will not be making any significant advertising effort around the iPhone 4. Its current push for the entry-level segment remains the iPhone 4S, which is still sold around the world as the lowest-priced model (and is available for free with a carrier subsidy in many countries).

Even at the projected new street price of Rs. 19,999, the iPhone 4 is not a value proposition. Apple is counting on the fact that people will pay a premium for its brand, but educated customers will steer away from it. Not only is the storage space especially constricted at 8GB (non-expandable), but the rest of its specifications are around four years old, which is at least one lifetime in smartphone terms.

The iPhone 4 has the weak Apple A4 chip inside, which simply cannot match up to today's models. It struggles to run even the latest version of its own operating system (iOS 7), and Apple has had to strip out many features just to get it to that point.

In the same price band, buyers can opt for the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, the HTC Desire 601, the Nokia Lumia 720, or Sony Xperia SP. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia Lumia 1320 are available for just under Rs 24,000 each.

More interestingly, fresh stocks of the discontinued iPhone 5 (black, 16 GB only) have popped up again in retail channels, at the original price of Rs 45,500. We have confirmed that 2-3 units are available at multiple branches of a popular retail chain in Mumbai. Sources in the channel indicate that these have not come in through official channels like the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 5 was discontinued in favour of the 5c, which has nearly identical specifications but has a colourful plastic shell that looks less sophisticated than the 5's metal and glass exterior did. While the price was reduced by US$ 100, the relative weakness of the Indian rupee compared to its value a year ago has resulted in a meager Rs. 3,000 difference between the price of the iPhone 5 and its supposedly cheaper replacement, the 5c. Thus, the older model still remains attractive at its original launch price, especially for those who prefer the metallic chasis.

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