Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus might be the most expensive smartphones launched in India, but that didn’t deter fans from lining up outside Apple reseller stores across the country to get their hands on the device.
At 11.30 pm, at the iZenica store in Delhi’s Greater Kailash, it is evident that this is a big launch for Apple. There’s a board with a running countdown, the store has even provided refreshments from chips to water to biscuits. Brushing with red and white balloons the iZenica staff are outside mingling with the crowd.
But the line is not too long. I ask one of the store employees how many people they are expecting, and he shrugs:“Right now there are three people in the line. But we expect more to start showing up.” They have several pre-bookings, he assures me.
A couple of stores ahead there’s a local mobile shop has geared up for the iPhone 6s launch. Not on the iZenica scale, but they have a clown and a guy playing the ‘nagaara’. However, a policeman soon turns up and puts an end to the late-night music.
Further ahead, there are red and white balloons at the Reliance Digital store too. When we walk in, he asks if we’re interested in buying the phone. He assures me they have EMI schemes available. He’s willing to give us the phone then and there, but the billing will have to wait till 12.
We decide to head out to the Imagine Store, an Apple premium reseller in Saket’s Select Citywalk. But as we leave, a trail of cars is starting to come in in the M block lane, all heading towards the iZenica store. Perhaps these are the customers they are expecting.
It’s close to 11.45 pm as we reach the mall. Even the mall staff are bewildered why we are entering now. “PVR is that way,” one tells us. When we say we are going to the Imagine Store where the Apple launch is happening, he finds it hard to believe. Nonetheless, we are told which entrance is open.
The Imagine Store has a much bigger line. They’ve even got an Emcee for the occasion and a lady in white gown playing the violin. Just like iZencia store, a table with chips, and water have also been set-up outside. No countdown board however.
Several of those standing in line have a paper with them which they are flaunting. After all it’s their ticket to get into the store first. I ask one of the store employees if anyone can go buy the phone right now or if it’s only those who have pre-booked. One tell me it’s only for those who have pre-booked. Later someone tells me, anyone can walk in and buy the phone today.
The line outside is a good 40-50 people and it keeps increasing. As midnight draws, the emcee tries to drum up the excitement. The security guard quickly starts trying to ‘control’ the crowd. Two policemen are also present at the venue, presumably to ensure that there’s no pushing or shoving.
The Imagine Store staff is now lined up inside the store, geared for the action. As 12-strikes, the staff screams, ‘iPhone 6s’ and the first customer is quickly ushered in. The guard moves into place trying to ‘manage’ the rest of the line. There’s a young boy and his father in the front as well, both anxious to get in.
It’s now past 12 and the first customer has made his purchase, an iPhone 6s in rose gold colour. In the excitement, Baljeet even forgets to collect his bill. The emcee chats him up and asks him how he feels. He’s very excited to get his hands on the new phone and is all smiles. In the noise, it’s hard to hear what he’s saying. Once out of the store, he’s too happy to pose outside for a poster saying, “I am the first.”
With the first customer out of the way, more are allowed to trickle in. The young boy and his father manage to reach the counter quickly and get their hands on an iPhone 6s Plus. Raja, all of 14, already has a phone in his hand, as he stands in the line.
‘I like the iPhone because it doesn’t hang. I want it for gaming and it’s fast,” says the shy teen when asked about his new purchase. He’s upgrading from an iPhone 5s and has gone for the space grey colour.
However, if there’s a colour that’s the toast of the night, it’s rose gold. This new colour is really what makes the iPhone 6s stand out from the iPhone 6. And even hard-core Apple fans know this.
Karanjeet, who says he’s been an iPhone user from the 1st-gen onwards, has bought two iPhone 6s devices. One for himself and one for his girlfriend. The colour: rose gold. “People told me don’t go for the 6s, but then as an Apple fan you have to get what you have to get. I felt the rose-gold colour is the new one in the series and so I must go for it,” he says. He adds that he came straight from work to stand in line for the new iPhones.
But even he admits that the new iPhone is very expensive. “I was hoping the pricing would be around Rs 55,000 like it was with the last phone.”
I ask him what he is looking for in the new iPhone 6s and he says that he doesn’t really think much has changed. “Let’s see what they do with iPhone 7. I wish they would get dual-SIM phones in India. I keep telling my father to get one, but then he carries two SIMs and the iPhone is not for him,” he adds. I ask him why he went with 16GB storage and he shrugs, “You have the iCloud for data backup.”
Newly married Shreya Singhal is another of the lucky few who’s managed to get an iPhone 6s with the rose gold colour. “I was using an iPhone 5 before. I’ve been waiting nearly 2 and a half years for this phone,” says Singhal.
Shreya is very clear that her iPhone will get a plain cover so that she can show off the new colour. “I felt this was the new colour in the series and I had to get it,” she adds.
The line outside now has new additions. People who just joined 15-20 minutes back. The lucky few who’ve already bought their phones are all too happy to pose for cameras, and cheer once they are outside.
The Imagine Store expects the show to go on till 3 am. Ask them about any pre-booking number, and there’s no clear answer. But then with Apple, you must never expect any confirmed numbers.
The iPhones might not be priced for everyone, but there’s definitely an air of exclusivity around them. Even the two policemen are checking out the iPhone, asking for details on how it works. The colour that has caught their eye: rose gold.