Airtel to launch iPhone at midnight; prices 8GB for Rs 31,000

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New Delhi, Aug 21 (UNI) Leading GSM operator, Bharti Airtel today said it will launch the iPhone today midnight across six cities and has priced the 8GB version for Rs 31,000 and 16GB for Rs 36,100.

Apple's iPhone will be available from today midnight at 19 Apple resellers and Airtel stores.

Vodafone will also launch its iPhone tonight.

''The handset will be available in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad from tonight, while 65 cities can buy it from tomorrow,'' Airtel President (Mobility) Sanjay Kapoor told reporters here.

The company remained tight-lipped about the sales projections and the number of units shipped.

Apple's iPhone is perhaps the most awaited phone launch in recent times, with the sets being available in the grey market.

The phone has hogged limelight for its features and the sheer genius with which the phone has been unlocked by hackers.

Asked about the high pricing of the handset, Mr Kapoor said, ''in western countries, the phone comes with a contractual obligation with the service provider wherein the whole price of the phone is recovered over a course of time. In India, there is no such practice, therefore, we are collecting the entire cost at one go.'' Airtel has received 2,00,000 pre-bookings for the phone since the process had started about two months back, he added.

The phone comes locked to the service provider, which means a user cannot switch his or her operator while using an iPhone.

Talking about the hacking softwares avaialble in the market for hacking the iPhone, Mr Kapoor said, ''we are aware of the hacking software that are available and are used to unlock the iPhone, but the customers who will stay with Airtel will be able to enjoy iPhone's full benefits including the data plans.'' Currently, there are more than 30,000 iPhone users in India using the second generation of iPhones (2G), he said.

UNI SR MP BD1830

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