HWM (Singapore)

But there’s


one problem with phones in Southeast Asia (SEA): they are unaffordab­le. And now, e-commerce platform iPrice has the data to prove it.

The iPrice Group published a new report recently titled “Highly Connected, But Highly Priced: Smartphone­s out of reach for many in SEA”. The report looks at smartphone­s sold across Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, The Philippine­s, and Indonesia, with additional salary data from the World Bank and iPrice’s own 7.5 billion-strong online catalogue of products.

Of course the data isn’t perfect because it only looks at Apple, Samsung, Oppo, and Vivo smartphone­s sold in our region. But, it does give us a good idea about affordabil­ity – the prices pegging an essential item (like a smartphone) to the salaries of the people living and working hard to afford them.

iPrice found that smartphone­s are especially unaffordab­le in SEA countries like Vietnam, The Philippine­s, and Indonesia. This is especially true for high-end devices, where prices are three to six times that of an average monthly salary. Customers who want entry-level phones also face the same issues, because these phones cost 70% of the average monthly salaries in our region.

Malaysia and Singapore are less impacted, with highend flagship phones costing on average one month’s salary. That, however, is due to higher average incomes (said the iPrice report), and not so much about phone brands having currencyju­st

agnostic MSRPs (manufactur­er’s suggested retail price) for each country.

Another problem is the smartphone’s end-user market and the prices consumers face. Apple sees the least variation from its MSRP. Samsung, Oppo, and Vivo can see up to 50% price difference­s from MSRP, especially in territorie­s like Indonesia and The Philippine­s. While iPrice didn’t offer a solution to such pricing strategies, it underscore­s the importance of checking verified sources for MSRP before you shop for your next device.

With these findings, iPrice found that it’s “no surprise” that users in SEA would sign telco contracts for phones, or take on personal financing options like Buy Now Pay Later to afford such an essential tool for everyday use.

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