SINGAPORE: In an extraordinary display of anticipation, hundreds of foreigners braved a night-long queue outside the COURTS store on Orchard Road, eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone 15 on Friday morning (Sept 22). A snaking line began forming as early as 4:30pm on Thursday (Sept 21) and consisted primarily of visitors from Vietnam, most of whom had plans to buy the latest iPhone model in bulk for resale in their home country.
The queue outside COURTS continued to grow throughout the evening. Even as rain began to drizzle on Orchard Road at 8pm, people continued to join the queue, determined to secure their mobile phones as soon as the outlet opened its doors at 8 am.
To ensure an orderly queue, COURTS deployed five to six staff members to manage the crowd and provide instructions. The store manager acknowledged that they had learned from previous experiences and were well-prepared this year. Given that most customers were from foreign countries, they had notice boards in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese to facilitate communication.
COURTS had opened pre-orders for the iPhone 15 the previous Friday, and demand was so high that it sold out within days. In contrast, the Apple store adjacent to COURTS opted for a numbered bracelet system and was set to open for sales at 8 am the following morning.
A staggering 90 per cent of the individuals in the queue were from Vietnam, with only a handful of Singaporeans and Indians spotted by reporters. Some travellers revealed that they were making a pit stop in Singapore to purchase the iPhones, while others had specifically flown to Singapore for this purpose and were at the store as soon as they arrived. After securing their phones, some planned to catch afternoon flights back to Vietnam.
For many Apple fans in the queue, Singapore’s status as the first Asian country to offer the iPhone 15 was the main draw. Countries like Vietnam, China, and Thailand are still awaiting official release dates, making Singapore an attractive destination to be among the first to own the coveted device.
Linda, a 31-year-old Vietnamese tourist, mentioned that her current iPhone was only three years old, but she wanted to upgrade. She also saw queuing abroad as an interesting experience.
Another enthusiast, Phuc Buu, a 27-year-old Vietnamese tourist, saw sightseeing as secondary to buying the new mobile phone. He told Channel 8 news, “As an Apple fan, I naturally don’t think the iPhone is expensive. What I buy is a form of spiritual sustenance and the satisfaction of owning the latest model before others.”
Most of the Vietnamese visitors interviewed by the Chinese channel had arrived in Singapore solely for this purpose, planning to return home the next day. Some even had plans to purchase iPhones in bulk for resale in Vietnam, estimating a profit of at least S$200 per phone.
A Vietnamese individual, who wished to remain anonymous, disclosed that there was a substantial domestic demand for iPhones in Vietnam, creating a lucrative market. This individual hoped to sell the phones at a premium.
Bao, a 24-year-old Vietnamese student, aimed to buy 20 iPhones with his savings and sell them to local mobile phone stores in Vietnam, with each phone potentially earning him S$200 to S$300 in profit. He considered mobile phone trading a fascinating hobby.
Boyljon, a devoted husband, had a heartwarming plan. He came to Singapore to purchase an iPhone 15 as a surprise birthday gift for his wife, whose birthday was also the following day. “I didn’t tell her that I came to Singapore to buy a mobile phone. I wanted to surprise her,” he shared.
Quan, another Vietnamese visitor, wisely pre-ordered an iPhone 15 at the Apple store on Orchard Road last week to avoid the queue on his sister’s birthday, which coincided with the release date.
As the sun rose over Orchard Road, it was clear that the allure of being among the first to own the iPhone 15 had brought people from far and wide to this bustling shopping district in Singapore. The scenes outside COURTS and the Apple store are a testament to the global phenomenon that surrounds each new iPhone release.