Prices for unlocked iPhone 4S models in the USA have now been announced, but the handsets will not be available until mid-November. In Britain, the unlocked phones are already available from Apple. Since it is always fun to compare transatlantic prices with ours, I’ve done some calculations. As usual, we need to strip out the 20 percent VAT that is always included in the quoted figures. On this basis, and converting everything to dollars (at $1.55 to the pound), the US and British prices are:
- 16GB $649 US, $644 UK
- 32GB $749 US, $773 UK
- 64GB $849 US, $903 UK
Given the constant fluctuations in exchange rates (only last month the figures would have been quite different), there’s not a lot to choose between the pre-tax prices in the two countries. That is a credit to Apple. Contrast this with Amazon who load British Kindle prices by 25 percent because of what they claim to be the higher cost of doing business over here.
It is still going to be considerably cheaper to buy an unlocked iPhone in the USA after November because of our heavy VAT loading. If we add a typical 6 percent sales tax to the above US prices we get the following comparisons.
- 16GB $687 US, $773 UK (plus $86 or £55)
- 32GB $794 US, $927 UK (plus $133 or £86)
- 64GB $899 US, $1,083 UK (plus $184 or £118)
Of course, if you are an honest John like yours truly and declare all your overseas purchases on arrival in the European Union, you will be worse off than if you had bought the phone here in the first place. You will pay VAT plus import duty.
For the record, the official Apple retail prices in the UK, including VAT, are £499, £599 and £699.
So now, in Britain at least, we have the first $1,000 phone that isn’t encrusted with diamonds. Not a MacBook Air, not even an iPad. Just a phone.