UAE’s etisalat to offer iPhone 5 for free ‘within weeks’

A day after du, one of UAE’s two telecom operators, said in a media statement that it will begin retailing iPhone 5-compatible nano-SIM cards from Wednesday, etisalat, the older operator, has stolen its thunder by claiming that the nano-SIMs have been available in its stores since October 1.

Etisalat has also promised that it will soon – in a matter of weeks – be offering the iPhone 5 free to its customers even though Apple is yet to announce a UAE launch date for its latest smartphone.

“In a matter of weeks, etisalat will offer the new iPhone 5 to customers allowing them to choose from a wide range of etisalat’s plans including some that will offer the device for free,” Khaled ElKhouly, Chief Marketing Officer at etisalat, said in a media statement.

“We urge our customers to take advantage of etisalat’s upcoming iPhone 5-bundled plans and experience it on the country’s first and widest 4G LTE network,” he said.

ElKhouly’s comments also suggest that the iPhone 5’s 4G LTE network will be compatible with the UAE’s network although previous reports had raised doubts about it.

Etisalat’s 4G LTE network supports Internet speeds of up to 150Mbps and allows customers to enjoy speed-demanding apps such as video streaming and networked gaming, the operator said, adding that it covers more than 80 per cent of the country’s populated areas and provides high-speed reliable 4G connectivity.

The iPhone 5 has been available in the UAE’s grey market from almost the same day it became available in the US.

Despite all its defects and disadvantages, what has been holding back the UAE’s Apple buffs from playing with their new toy is the unavailability of the nano-SIM that can make it come alive.

However, after what must have been 12 agonising days for Apple aficionados, both the UAE’s telecom operators have confirmed that nano-SIM cards are now available in their stores for iPhone 5 fans.

While du announced that the much-yearned-for nano-SIM is now available in all its stores from Wednesday (October 3), etisalat's announcement came after du but said that the nano-SIMs have been available in its stores since October 1.

“We are thrilled to offer our customers the latest SIM card technology, which can be used in newly-released smartphones,” Farid Faraidooni, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said in a media statement.

“du is pleased to inform its customers that it is the first to stock nano-SIM cards, which will be available from all du shops from Wednesday 3 October,” the Dubai-based service provider said in a media statement.

etisalat too announced the wide availability of the nano-SIM card across its outlets in the UAE.
“To meet customer demand, etisalat placed a large order to ensure wide availability of the nano-SIM. Customers can now get the SIM cards at any of etisalat’s points of sales,” said ElKhouly.

That is music to Apple fans in the UAE, who will no doubt be queuing up at stores to get their hands on the nano-SIM.

Not that the true fan was waiting anyway. As this website has reported earlier, ingenious ways of turning traditional and micro-SIMs to nano-SIM cards have already emerged – from customised nano-SIM cutters to do-it-yourself kitchen knife procedures.

But now that the legitimate version is available, many more customers are expected to go for Apple’s new smartphone even as the company is yet to announce an iPhone 5 launch date for its Middle Eastern fans.

“New and existing customers wishing to get to a nano-SIM card can do so. The process is simple, quick and convenient and can be completed in less than five minutes,” du urged in its statement.

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