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Should You Buy an Imported iPhone in India? Pros and Cons

iPhones in India, which otherwise cost dearly, can be bought at substantial discounts if you opt for a global unit. iPhones are usually imported from countries where it retails cheaper than India, such as Japan, Hong Kong, the USA, and China. These units sell at much less than the Indian variant and hence are preferred by many. But are there any caveats when buying an imported iPhone for yourself? Are there any warranty issues or safety risks you should keep in mind? Here’s everything on buying an imported iPhone in India and its pros and cons.

Should You Buy an Imported iPhone in India

Why Do People Buy Imported iPhones in India?

The imported iPhones generally sell for about 20-30% less than they officially cost in India. And these must be purchased from unauthorized channels for obvious reasons. Since iPhones are already very expensive (with the iPhone 14 Pro Max costing upwards of ₹1,27,999), people find comfort in buying it for a closer to a fair price, albeit an imported unit.

To find the ground reality, we went to Delhi’s Gaffar market and nearby stores to enquire about an imported iPhone 14 Pro (128GB). We were quoted an estimated ₹96,000 for the Chinese unit, ₹95,000 for the USA variant with eSim, and ₹98,000 for the Hong Kong model (prices may vary).

On top of that, we were offered ₹40,000 for our 15-month-old iPhone 13 (128GB) in exchange which was more than a fair deal. In most cases, these iPhones are sold without any valid bill or receipt. And since these stores lure you into believing the international coverage by Apple, the warranty isn’t much thought after either.

Should You Buy an Imported iPhone in India?

Since you can get an imported iPhone for cheap in India and it is easily available through offline channels, especially in Delhi, is it worth buying one yourself? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of buying an imported iPhone in India, specifically focusing on the recent models, including the iPhone 14, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max.

Pros of Buying an Imported iPhone (Advantages)

1. You Save Money!

Pros of Buying Imported iPhone India

As mentioned, an imported iPhone 14 Pro costs well under ₹95,000 to ₹1,00,000 in India, as opposed to its official retail price of ₹1,18,000 on Amazon (at the time of writing). This gives you a discount window of approximately 20%.

This is possible due to the differences in currency exchange rates, the tax structures of the countries, and Apple’s pricing strategy for the region. Compared to countries like the USA, China, Hong Kong, and Japan, iPhones are officially more expensive in India due to higher import duty, 18 percent GST, and deprecating currency against US Dollar.

You can use the cash you save to buy essentials like a fast PD charger, a good quality case, a screen protector, and other accessories like a battery pack or a Magsafe charger. Or you can save the money and invest it in a good asset!

2. International Warranty (Only if You Have Bill!)

If you do not have the imported iPhone’s original invoice, it’s completely on your luck whether the Apple Service Center will entertain any repairs under warranty.

Apple offers an international warranty on its iPhones. This means an iPhone 13 or 14 Pro brought from the USA or Japan, for that matter, will very well be entertained at any authorized Apple Service Center in the country, provided you have an official bill receipt.

International Warranty for Imported iPhones in India

There have been instances where Apple Centers merely relied on the device’s serial number to verify coverage status. But that seems to have changed now, and if you have an iPhone from the USA, Japan, or any other country, you must have a valid purchase receipt.

And no, receipts from the local seller (the one selling you the imported iPhone in India) won’t work. The invoice must be from the region the iPhone originally belongs to.

When buying an imported iPhone, ask the seller for its original invoice. Also, make sure to check its coverage on Apple’s official website using the Serial Number on the box. It should show “Not activated” unless turned on and connected to a cellular or Wifi network.

3. Dual eSIM Version on US Model

Apple has removed the physical SIM slot in the iPhone 14 series for devices selling in the USA. Instead, it comes with two eSIM modules, and you’ll have to register your carrier to the integrated eSIM. On the other hand, models sold in India and other regions have an integrated eSIM and a physical SIM card slot.

Dual eSIM Imported iPhone from US

When buying an imported iPhone in India, you can primarily choose between Chinese, American, and Japanese units. The USA model is not only the cheaper of the lot (due to mass preference for physical SIM card slots), but certain people give a higher preference to eSIM for its benefits.

For instance, eSIM can’t be physically damaged or lost as it’s embedded inside the iPhone. It is far more secure than a physical SIM card and cannot be duplicated or cloned.

It also makes your iPhone theft-proof since the thief cannot remove the SIM card (there isn’t a physical slot), and you can track the device using Find My even when it’s switched off, at least until the battery drains out.

4. Dual Physical SIM Slot in Chinese Model

China iPhone 14 Pro Model with Dual SIM Slot

iPhone Dual SIM Slot: Nabeel Nawab

Despite being beneficial, eSIM has disadvantages like the inability to swap between phones (when your iPhone battery dies) and the headache of transferring to a new phone when switching devices. This is where the Chinese variant comes to the rescue.

So if you’re on the other side of the line, importing an iPhone from China would be beneficial since it comes with two physical SIM slots. iPhones in India and other regions (except for the US) have a physical slot and an eSIM which can bother people with two mobile numbers.

5. mmWave Antenna in US Model

iPhone mmWave Antenna Patch on US Model

The millimeter wave 5G frequency is currently only available in the USA. Hence, only the US models have an additional mmWave antenna patch on the side of the phone. India currently uses only the standard 5G, so there’s no requirement for the mmWave antenna in India and other regions.

However, choosing a US model would be better if you frequently visit the USA and plan to utilize the full-fledged millimeter wave technology.

All-inclusive, for people who want both mobile numbers to be in eSIM format and additional want mmWave, buying an iPhone imported from the US is a good option, considering it’s also cheaper of the lot due to less demand.

Cons of Buying an Imported iPhone (Disadvantages)

1. No Bill = No Warranty

The international warranty (mentioned as an advantage above) suddenly becomes a con if you do not get a proper invoice. If you don’t have a receipt or proof of purchase from an Apple-authorized retailer from the region it belongs to, you’ll have a high time claiming a warranty in India if the device runs into issues.

So when buying an imported iPhone in India, consider asking for an authorized bill, which will most likely be denied. We contacted an Apple Service Center that confirmed the requirement of a valid invoice for out-of-country devices.

Hence, make sure you know of warranty issues when buying an International or global iPhone in India.

2. Software Restrictions

Shutter Sound on iPhone Imported from Japan

iPhones in certain regions have software-imposed restrictions to abide by regional regulations. For example, Japanese iPhones have mandatory sound effects for Camera shutters, Voice memos, and Emergency Alerts, even when the device is silent.

Similarly, FaceTime is unavailable for iPhones in UAE because of government restrictions on VoIP services. And for iPhones bought in mainland China, you can’t use FaceTime audio; only video calls work.  So look out for the software restrictions and choose carefully where you want an iPhone from.

3. You Cannot Claim GST Rebate (Business Owners)

Since the imported iPhones are being sold in India illegally, you won’t get a valid tax bill. The best a seller or shopkeeper may do is give you a receipt, but that’s useless except for remembering the sale point.

If you are a business owner, buying an iPhone through official retailers allows you to get a GST invoice. And the 18% GST which is billed initially on every iPhone, can be adjusted and set off against your tax liability, provided it’s bought for business purposes.

So for business owners, buying an iPhone officially might be better considering the cost saving through GST rebate, which almost brings its price down to what you get imported iPhones for.

The Best Way to Buy an iPhone from Abroad

If you plan on buying an imported iPhone in India due to the attractive pricing, there’s a better way to do so. If you have a colleague or relative coming from any of the countries where the iPhone sells cheaper than India (such as the USA, UAE, Japan, or Hong Kong), you can ask them to buy an iPhone on your behalf.

This way, you get an officially sold iPhone for even less than what the imported units sell in India, and with a valid invoice from an authorized retailer, enabling international warranty coverage without a fuss. But again, a custom fee may be applicable for sealed boxes, so be careful about how you bring the device in.

How to Check an iPhone’s Origin Country or Region?

You can easily find an iPhone’s origin country using its model number. Find the model number on the box or Settings > About > Model Number. Note down the first two letters before the slash- for instance, MLPK3HN/A. Then match them with the table of codes below to find the country the iPhone came from.

  • A – Canada
  • AB – Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia
  • AE – UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
  • AH – Bahrain, Kuwait
  • B – Great Britain or Ireland
  • BR– Brazil (Assembled in Brazil)
  • BZ – Brazil (Assembled in China)
  • C – Canada
  • CH – China
  • CN – Slovakia
  • СZ – Czech Republic
  • D – Germany
  • DN – Holland, Austria, Germany
  • E – Mexico
  • EE – Estonia
  • ET – Estonia
  • F – France
  • FB – Luxembourg
  • FS – Finland
  • FD – Liechtenstein, Austria, or Switzerland
  • GR – Greece
  • HB – Israel
  • HN – India
  • IP – Italy
  • J – Japan
  • KH – China, South Korea
  • KN – Denmark or Norway
  • KS – Finland or Sweden
  • LA – Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador
  • LE – Argentina
  • LL – USA
  • LP – Poland
  • LT – Lithuania
  • LV – Latvia
  • LZ – Paraguay, Chile
  • MG – Hungary
  • MY– Malaysia
  • NF – Luxembourg, Belgium, France
  • PK – Finland, Poland
  • PL – Poland
  • PM – Poland
  • PO – Portugal
  • PP – Philippines
  • QL – Italy, Spain, Portugal
  • QN – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland
  • RK – Kazakhstan
  • RM – Russia or Kazakhstan
  • RO – Romania
  • RP/RR/RS/RU – Russia
  • SE – Serbia
  • SL – Slovakia
  • SO – South Africa
  • SU – Ukraine
  • T – Italy
  • TA – Taiwan
  • TU – Turkey
  • UA – Ukraine
  • X – Australia, New Zealand
  • Y – Spain
  • ZA – Singapore
  • ZD – Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, France, Switzerland, Monaco
  • ZP – Hong Kong, Macau


Q. Will FaceTime Work on iPhones Imported from Dubai (UAE) to India?

As per the Apple support page updated in March 2023, FaceTime is not available in the United Arab Emirates because the UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) restricts access to some parts of the Internet.

Q. Does an iPhone Imported from Japan Still Have Shutter Sound Issue?

Yes, if you own a Japanese iPhone, you won’t be able to turn off the camera shutter sound. Your iPhone will always make a sound when you click a picture.

Q. Which imported iPhone Should You Buy- US or China/ Hong Kong/ Japan?

We’d recommend getting the China unit if you want two physical SIM slots. In contrast, people who want dual eSIM and frequently travel to the US must get the American model. Hong Kong and Japanese models are equally good, depending on the price.

Q. What are the Countries Where iPhone Sells Cheaper than India?

Here are the countries where iPhones sell much cheaper than in India:

  • US
  • Canada
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Australia
  • UAE
  • Malaysia

Wrapping Up

This was all about buying imported iPhones in India. I hope the guide above helps you understand what an imported iPhone is, why people buy one, and the pros and cons when buying one for yourself. It may be wiser to buy an imported unit if it saves you a significant amount of money, but you should be aware of the caveats it brings along. Feel free to reach out if you still have any doubts or queries. Stay tuned for more.

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Ritik Singh

Ritik is the Managing Editor at GadgetsToUse. He manages the website and oversees the content to ensure it's as informative as possible. He also heads the sub-sites in the network. Putting work aside, he has a great interest in personal finance and is also a keen motorcycle enthusiast.