Business / Tech

Long lines form as pricey new iPhones make debut in Japan

Kyodo

Pricier and bigger iPhone models were launched in Japan on Friday, with the country’s three leading mobile carriers starting sales of the XS Max and the XS that have faster processors, better battery life and improved camera functions.

Although it has been 10 years since it made its debut here, launch days for the latest iPhone continue to see eager buyers form long lines at retail outlets from early in the morning.

At a large Apple store in Tokyo’s trendy Omotesando commercial area, staff high-fived around 250 people, who had waited in the rain, when the doors opened at 8 a.m.

Among the customers was Daiki Shimizu, a 20-year-old university student from Tokyo, who had been standing in line since 5:30 a.m.

“I want to use a better-performing camera as soon as possible,” he said.

The XS Max with a 6.5-inch screen — the largest display ever for an iPhone — and the XS with a 5.8-inch screen, will retail for ¥124,800 ($1,120) and ¥112,800, respectively. Both devices have a high-end organic light-emitting diode display.

The more affordable XR with a 6.1-inch liquid crystal display, which will be available in six colors, will cost ¥84,800 and goes on sale Oct. 26.

The iPhone is the dominant smartphone in Japan, enjoying a roughly 50 percent market share in the country, one of the highest ratios in the world.

Major mobile carriers SoftBank Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp., as well as consumer electronics retailers, held launch events to attract customers amid growing sales competition.

At an event in the capital, NTT Docomo President Kazuhiro Yoshizawa said, “I’d like people to take advantage of our efficient network and enjoy the various images and services.”

KDDI President Makoto Takahashi said at a separate event that the company has “prepared subscription plans that will cater to the needs of each customer.”

Some domestic manufacturers, such as NEC Corp. and Panasonic Corp., found it increasingly difficult to keep up with Apple and withdrew from the smartphone market, as their products, while boasting a high level of performance, paled in comparison to the iPhone in terms of design and ease of use.

The two iPhone models launched Friday in more than 30 markets around the world, including Australia, China and the United States.