UAE's Etisalat set for midnight iPhone 5 launch

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Etisalat, the UAE’s largest telecoms operator, will follow in tech giant Apple’s footsteps and launch the iPhone 5 at midnight on 13 December. 

Thirteen of the operator’s business centres across the UAE will be open from 23:00 UAE time onwards on December 12 with sales starting at 24:00, it said.

Apple’s highly-anticipated iPhone 5 will officially be released in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain on December 14 as part of its fastest international roll-out of the device so far.

UAE customers have been able to pre-order their devices, which start at AED2,749 (US$748.40) for the 16GB model, since December 9.

Etisalat has priced its 32GB and 64GB models at AED3,149 and AED3,549 while du customers are able to purchase 32GB and 64GB models at AED3,199 and AED3,599, respectively.

While both operators are offering the device at similar price points, UAE users will be charged significantly more than US consumers. A 16GB model on the US Apple website is available for US$649 before tax, US$99.40 less than the UAE.

Etisalat said it will offer several pre and postpaid packages starting at AED99 and AED225 a month, respectively. Du has yet to release details of its packages.

Apple said it sold more than 5m units of its iPhone 5 during the first three days of its release, surpassing a record set last year by the previous model.

The device has since restored Apple to the top smartphone spot in the US, edging out handsets based on Google’s Android software. Apple’s iOS has a 48.1 percent share of US smartphone sales while Android has 46.7 percent, according to research firm Kantar World Panel.

But not everyone has been impressed with the new phone, which has a larger, four-inch screen and supports faster 4G mobile networks. Some users have criticised its new maps feature for a number of glitches including missing information and a lack of features.

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