In Ukraine, official sales of new smartphones from Apple started quite quickly – iPhone 14 and 14 Pro/14 Pro Max, and the company’s new smartwatches are also expected. To find out how the “gray” market reacted to the rapid official sales this year, what will happen to the American iPhone 14 without a SIM tray in Ukraine, and the sales volume, we decided to talk to the founder of the store iLounge, Oleksandr Tsybart.

In Ukraine, sales of the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro lines have started, how do you assess the volumes of official and “gray” supplies? How did such a rather early start of official orders affect the “gray” market?

Traditionally, the volumes of “gray” supplies are much larger on the Ukrainian market than the official ones. This year, the “gray” market quickly adapted to the new release dates, and the iPhone 14 was in Ukraine on the first day of sales – September 16. Of course, the prices on the first day were almost twice as high as usual, but every day they fell. Also, a big role in increasing the cost of smartphones was played by the increase in Apple prices in Europe due to the exchange rate of the euro, the difference between the basic models is almost $500 compared to the USA.

But it can be stated that the prices will quickly stabilize after the arrival of the “gray” iPhone 14 from the USA. The official supply of Apple equipment has changed significantly this year, in the sense that the new iPhones went on sale much earlier, namely on September 23. And also, and perhaps most importantly, the prices have become quite competitive. This is primarily due to the exchange rate difference in cash and non-cash forms. Thanks to this, iPhone 14 prices are even lower than European prices (after all, we count in cash, which is relevant for “gray equipment”). For example, let’s take the base model iPhone 14 Pro 128GB Deep Purple MQ0G3:

– official price in Ukraine: UAH 52,499
– gray market: UAH 68,000
– price in Europe: 1299 euros
– price in the USA: $999

Based on this, and taking into account the cash rate – UAH 43, it turns out that it is practically impossible to beat the official price of the iPhone 14 “gray market” at the start of sales, and it is unlikely that it will be possible to compete strongly after the decline in demand, namely after the New Year.

Given the logistical challenges of a full-scale war, how much supply do you think buyers of both official and gray models should expect?

There shouldn’t be any problems with the official supply, because the logistics work well and we didn’t have any significant changes in terms of supply with accessories. As for “gray” channels, it’s hard for me to say because we don’t do it, but the suppliers already have the availability and are meeting the demand. It is already clear that such channels work and fill the market quite quickly, so there should be no problems with volumes. This is also due to the fact that the demand itself has decreased by 2-3 times compared to previous years, and the reasons are clear to all of us.

This year, Apple made eSIM technology a priority for the American market, and the iPhone 14/14 Pro in the US no longer has a slot for physical SIM cards, will this somehow affect the Ukrainian market, because part of the “gray” supply to Ukraine was just from the States?

Yes, definitely such iPhones will be on sale in Ukraine at a lower price, which will attract most buyers. eSIM technology is only a big plus in terms of security, so over time, the European version will also migrate to a version only with its support. Of course, the lack of a slot scares most of our people, but over time, iPhones with eSIM will have the biggest sales in Ukraine due to the lower price. The readiness of Ukrainian operators for technology and a smooth transition play an important role here.

For many years, when the iPhone appeared on sale in Ukraine, especially if the models were at least with a slightly updated design, there was always a certain excitement and a lot of stories, how Apple smartphones were bought for almost all the money in the world in order to be among the first. According to your observations this year, given the situation in the country, is there a similar excitement?

This start of sales is definitely completely different for Ukraine. There is no mass update to the new product as in previous years. Most people, even with high financial wealth, stay on the previous models and do not “chase” the novelty. In fact, this is gratifying, people’s priorities have changed, everyone understands the value of money and how it is necessary for the Armed Forces at this time. Therefore, a donation to support the army is a new iPhone 14 for Ukraine 🙂

Now at the start of pre-orders, official sellers offer small discounts on new iPhone models, but the first “gray” offers are, as always, quite high. In your experience, when can we expect stabilization of prices for the iPhone 14/14 Pro? But will it be this year at all?

In previous years, the price stabilized within a month from the start of sales, but this year will be somewhat different for Ukraine. Since the official iPhones have an extremely attractive price and an early start of sales, they will be strong competition for the “gray market” this year. The main issue is availability and the ability to meet demand, if everything goes well with this, then the “gray market” will slowly recede into the background. In my opinion, the competitor’s price will be possible only for the American iPhone 14 with eSIM and only after the New Year.

Some sellers offer trade-in and installment or installment programs for new official iPhone models. To what extent do you think this allows the “white” market to compete with the “gray”? But how many buyers, according to your experience, turn to such offers?

The same is offered by “gray” players, where the conditions are better and you don’t have to wait as long for a new product as in the “white” market. Therefore, they also win here and take most of the customers. In fact, the official Trade In iPhone program still does not work normally in Ukraine due to the lack of competition in terms of price and the availability of new products, which is why the volumes are minimal.

Apple does not disclose pre-order volumes for the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, but analysts who track production and supply to sales channels say the Pros are selling much better. Do you observe, on the example of your store, that the demand for the Pro-model is really much higher? But was the same situation with the iPhone 13 Pro last year?

No, this year Ukraine is in completely different conditions and is actually separated from the world in this regard. Therefore, global indicators did not affect Ukraine in any way. In our country, they are much lower than last year when the iPhone 13 Pro was released.

This year, Apple presented a completely new Apple Watch Ultra smart watch, are many buyers asking about it and how soon, in your opinion, should we expect it in Ukraine?

On the day of the start of sales, September 23, they were already in Ukraine, but with high prices. Normal prices should also be expected after full satisfaction of the markets in Europe and the USA, in 1-2 months. The Apple Watch Ultra smartwatch will definitely be the best seller this year and it is the one that is in the greatest demand among other Apple Watch models that have been minimally updated this year.

One of the “features” of the Apple Watch Ultra is eSIM support, do buyers often ask about this technology in the Apple Watch? But did it happen that the watch was returned because there is no eSIM for such devices in Ukraine?

Initially, as soon as eSIM support appeared in the Apple Watch, customers actively asked for the technology and were interested, but over time everyone realized that it does not work in Ukraine, so the activity is minimal, there are no requests. We did not have such returns, because the client is immediately informed that the eSIM will not work with Ukrainian operators.

Many accessories for both Apple and other smartphones were brought to Ukraine from China. Given the disruption of logistics chains due to the war, how difficult will it be to buy a case and screen protector for the iPhone 14/14 Pro this year?

In this regard, nothing has changed, logistics from China works as it did before the war, of course, I am speaking only for the official import of goods since this is how we import our products. And the delays with the supply of accessories are more related to the processes in China, due to the new quarantine and readiness for the early presentation of Apple. However, we already have many options for covers and protective glass available on our website.