Russia, Land of Cheat Vodka and iPhones: John Heisel, Moscow-based vice president of sales and trading at Renaissance Capital Holdings Ltd told Bloomberg that while sanctions and the ruble's ongoing collapse had made his grocery bill jump by 25 percent, at least one thing has gotten cheaper in dollar terms: iPhones. Heisel added that "The days of buying Apple gadgets for friends when I visit New York are over." Heisel further noted that he took advantage of the current situation and bought himself a new iPhone 6.
A Russian Apple reseller called "Re:Store," stated that gray-market imports have been competing for sales at its stores in St. Petersburg, where people could travel just 100 kilometers (62 miles) across the Finnish border and buy anything ranging from clothes to gadgets. Lyudmila Semushina, a spokeswoman for the reseller stated that "Now it probably makes sense to smuggle suitcases of iPhones in the opposite direction."
In ruble terms the sticker price hasn't changed. An iPhone 6 without a carrier contract starts at 31,990 rubles (US$700), relatively high for many Russians. However, after the ruble lost 25 percent against the dollar and 18 percent against the euro in the past four months, the Russian price has fallen below that of other countries.
In neighboring Finland, long a popular destination for Russian shoppers, the iPhone 6 costs about 700 euros (US$870). So Findlander's could save a lot of money going to Russia to buy a new iPhone 6. While that news won't make Finland's Prime Minister very happy, it could put a big smile on many of his native countrymen.