The iPhone has become a major target for box breakers after its £100 price cut, with Carphone staff reporting ‘highly irregular’ buying behaviour around the device, Mobile has learned.
Box breakers have been tempted by the £169 UK price tag, which is £75 less than the European price tag.
According to the latest handset trading figures from GSM Exchange, the 8GB version of the device is being traded in Europe for £244 (304).
With typical charges of between £15 and £30 to unlock the device, it leaves box breakers with a potential profit of £60 per device, a sharp increase on the smaller margins available from trading lower end handsets.
Staff in O2 stores on London’s Oxford Street reported selling out of the iPhone on the first day of the price cuts, while Carphone staff revealed that unusual buying patterns have begun to occur since the device’s price was lowered. One store manager claimed another store sold 20 iPhones within the first hour of opening on a Monday morning.
One unlocker said that the amount of iPhones his company processed had doubled over the last two weeks. He said: ‘The iPhone has become the phone of choice for box breakers. Stock is drying up.’
He added that as well as unlocking devices for his usual box breaking clientele, he has also noticed a rise in individual consumers bringing in the handsets for unlocking.
Another unlocker said that he had witnessed a five-fold increase in the number of iPhones he unlocked, which is not in proportion with the rise in genuine sales of iPhones after the price cut.
An O2 spokesman said: ‘Some people will unlock the iPhone but it’s not happening on a big scale.
‘The price change only came into effect recently and so far we haven’t seen a big rise in unlocking. Most people want the full iPhone experience which means being on O2.’
The price discount has fuelled rumours of an imminent release of a 3G version of the device.