Sci & Tech

Buying a Smartphone in Iran is Tedious

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Understanding the phone buying process in the Iranian market is something close to discomfiture
MTN-Irancell’s only phone on offer is the ‘MTN’ as it is called on the company’s website.
MTN-Irancell’s only phone on offer is the ‘MTN’ as it is called on the company’s website.

It’s that time again, two new phones have been released since you bought your beloved ‘flagship’ smartphone, and the battery is starting to become unreliable, but what are your options for buying the latest phones in Iran?

Well, luckily, Iran does host several large foreign firms who sell phones – with guarantees – Apple is not one of them. However, at least some third-party companies are stocking the latest iPhone7 in the local market at prices that are fairly competitive.

Unfortunately, Iran’s mobile phone purchasing system has not developed like many other countries, but there are a few options available if you are looking for a smartphone with fixed monthly payments.

  Package With Telephone Line

Only the two biggest operators offer anything close to what people outside of Iran expect, and that is a new smartphone with a telephone line as part of a package.

Prepare to be underwhelmed. In the case of MTN-Irancell the only phone on offer is the ‘MTN’ as it is called on the company’s website. For this package – where you get a 4G SIM card and 6GB of data –you should pay 3.5 million rials, plus an extra fee every month for calls, data and text messages.

MTN’s sister website,, which sells its electronics items, does have a slightly bigger list of phones. However, the newest smartphones like the Galaxy S8 are not available – the latest phone they sell is the Galaxy S7.

In those package deals you should pay roughly 80% of the cost of the phone and the remaining over an extended period, still a far cry from deals in other countries.

Mobile Communications of Iran (MCI), the older and bigger competitor to MTN-Irancell, also offers a phone bundle package with Xiaomi. In the bundle packages MCI offers the Mi4, Redmi2 and RedmiNote2 – but do remember that Mi6 has just been launched so those other phones now look a bit too  dated.

For the Mi4 package, potential customers must pay 7,566 million rials ($200) for 10GB package, SIM and phone.

RighTel, the third biggest operator, appears to have opted out of packages, at least for now.

Currently, none of the future Mobile Virtual Network Operators have begun offering their SIMs to customers so it remains to be seen if they have a package possibly coming sometime next year. It may be one of the only ways they turn a profit as they are unlikely to make much revenue off calls, texts and data.  

  SIM-Free Phones

Buying a phone SIM-free is by far the most common way people purchase new mobiles in Iran. But it is not out of choice, it is merely how the system has evolved in recent years due to a lack of contract mobile phone packages on offer and the poor representation by several companies.

Comparing SIM-free phones in Iran and abroad, they can often be cheaper than those bought in Europe or elsewhere. Just don’t expect a warranty most of the time!  

For example take the price of a new Samsung Galaxy S8; according to local price comparison site the smartphone costs 25,400,000 rials ($677) at, whereas the same phone costs 30,831,750 rials ($822) from Britain’s

That is not a one-off either, the Apple iPhone7 256GB costs 36,912,000 rials ($985) on the UK version of Amazon, while the price in Iran for the same phone retails at 34,459,000 rials ($919) on However, like all Apple products in Iran, if they break, there is no official Apple store to give you a like-for-like replacement and your warranty is at the mercy of the so-called ‘Apple specialists’.

Some companies in Iran are officially represented and offer full range of guarantees; these include Samsung, LG, Huawei, HTC, Sony Asus and Xiaomi among the most common brands.

  Getting the Best Offer

There are price comparison websites in Iran which can save you the hassle of going round the one of several dozen mobile phone bazaars in the capital. They are also more likely to offer better prices as well and give you the full range and varying types of phones on the market – one search for the Galaxy series you will note there are several variants of S7 and S8 models.

The price comparison websites include,,, and

Beware! Some prices offered on the websites can be misleading as many of them offer prices for phones they may not have.


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