iPhone 8 preorders open, slowly

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iPhone 8 preorders open, slowly

Three mobile carriers - SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ - began taking preorders for the new iPhone 8 on Friday, but market observers say the consumer response is noticeably tepid compared to previous iPhone releases.

The phone officially launches in Korea on Nov. 3.

According to KT on Friday, its first batch of 50,000 iPhones sold out in 30 minutes after sales began at 9 a.m. This was noticeably slower than the iPhone 7, which sold out in just 15 minutes when preorders began.

“The iPhone 8 was one of most anticipated phones in the second half of the year, but there seem to be people waiting for the upcoming iPhone X,” a source from one of the mobile carriers said.

After both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were unveiled in Cupertino, California last month, consumers have been showing more interest in the iPhone X, a special edition model made to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s release.

While the iPhone X was introduced with cutting edge features, such as the new edge-to-edge screen, a special artificial intelligence-enabled chip, new sensors for facial recognition and an augmented reality game platform, the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and its bigger sibling, the 5.5-inch 8 Plus, are essentially updated versions of the iPhone 7 series, though they do offer wireless charging.

Reports from consumers in Taiwan, China and Japan that iPhone 8 batteries were swelling also raised the specter of the ill-fated Galaxy Note8 phablet from Samsung Electronics, further dampening demand for the Apple phone. Some analysts say that considering the list of accidents that have occurred, the current sales record is not bad.

The prices of the phones were disclosed as presales began. The 64 gigabyte model of the iPhone 8 comes with a price tag of 946,000 won ($839), while the most expensive 256-GB iPhone 8 Plus costs 1,283,700 won.

Mobile carriers offered subsidies on the phone of as much as 122,000 won for subscribers of expensive phone plans worth around 110,000 won per month. SK Telecom offered the highest subsidy, at 122,000 won, while KT set a 115,000 won ceiling and LG U+ goes as high as 118,000 won. Though the government lifted the subsidies ceiling of 330,000 won at the beginning of this month, the actual amount of subsidies offered by mobile carriers was similar to previous levels.

In Korea, customers who buy a new phone can forgo the subsidy altogether and instead opt for a monthly discount on their cellular bill. Last month the discount cap was raised from 20 percent to 25 percent, making the discount option more attractive.

Many consumers are expected to choose an option to get 25 percent discounts on monthly phone bills that could shave off a maximum 660,000 won from phone bills over a two-year contract.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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