Sci & Tech

iPhone Ban Not Implemented

Although not registered, smuggled iPhones are still usable in Iran
iPhone buyers often purchase their new models from shopping centers.  iPhone buyers often purchase their new models from shopping centers.

Smuggled iPhone 7s changing hands in Iran’s gray electronics market are still working and their access to Iran’s communication network has not yet been blocked.

Three days after the initial sale of the new iPhone in the US, the new model appeared in Iran’s gray market at exorbitant prices, mostly from neighboring states.

Without further ado, Iranian officials announced that contraband iPhones would not get access to domestic services.

However, following the strict new guidelines, several retailers have informed Financial Tribune that the iPhone7s they are continuing to sell have not faced any problem, yet.

Another person, who had imported his phone from the United Kingdom, noted that he was not required to show proof of purchase and his phone is also working normally.

The owner of the new phone said, “I can understand the government’s wish to collect tax revenues, but until Apple opens an official store in Tehran, how are we meant to believe who is an official importer and who isn’t.”

The iPhone buyer also said if his phone was blocked, who would register it under a foreign SIM card as a tourist to get “some use out of it”.

  The New Rules

The confusion by retailers and Apple enthusiasts follows the recent announcement made by Gholamhossein Karimi, the head of Iran’s Telecommunications Guild.

Karimi reminded iPhone buyers that the smartphones, which have illegally entered the country, will not be registered and the mobile communication operators are legally bound to not provide services to them.

“In case these phones are registered due to individual error, their access to Iran’s mobile communications network will be blocked,” he said.

“Even mobile phones of travelers should be registered, as they would become unusable.”

Apple launched the sale of iPhone 7 on September 7, which has been priced between $649 and $849 in the US on the official website of the company. This is while it is sold in Iran at an exorbitant price of around $2,200.

Referring to the staggering price of the contraband iPhone7s in the domestic market, he said the guild will regulate the sale of legally imported phones to protect consumers’ rights.

On September 21, ILNA reported that 14 Iranian companies received permits for importing iPhones and have already registered to import the phone through legal channels, which will be available in Iran next week.

Iran’s Customs Administration has launched a website and SMS service to help cellphone buyers identify contraband phones and consumers are encouraged to use the services to ensure that the phone they purchase would be usable.

The website will provide services based on a phone’s IMEI number—the International Mobile Equipment Identity, or a number that helps identify the serial number of the mobile phones.

The IMEI number is used by the administration to identify valid devices and, therefore, can be used for stopping a stolen or illegally imported phone from accessing Iran’s communications network.

According to a mandate issued recently, all commercial importers of mobile phones are obliged to register the IMEI of their imported goods.

Apple has no official representative in Iran and since the Iranian administration introduced a new scheme to stop the contraband phones from entering the country, the price for iPhones have soared.

Iran’s Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade recently issued licenses for five domestic companies to import iPhones and other Apple electronic products.

An official with the ministry announced at a press conference that there is no ban on importing smartphones from the US, ICTNA reported on September 6.

US sanctions bar American corporate entities from entering the Iranian economy or partnering with local businesses, unless they get a waiver from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

“Therefore, Apple Inc. cannot establish an official representative in Iran. But there is no ban on the legal import of the company’s products to Iran [from Iran’s side],” he said.