Smartphones under sanctions. How much will gadgets cost in Russia

MOSCOW, May 29 – RIA Novosti, Dmitry Ermakov. Despite the strengthening of the ruble, phones and laptops are not getting cheaper. Used refurbished devices are increasingly being sold on marketplaces, demand for push-button devices is growing, and Chinese manufacturers are pushing competitors. True, there are also new iPhones on sale: mainly on the gray market. What smartphones will be popular in 2022 and how prices will change, RIA Novosti found out.

Calm after the storm
In April, sales fell – according to various estimates, by 30-50%. There is no data for May yet, but foreign experts assure that the gadget market is unlikely to return to growth soon. Domestic think tanks are also skeptical. According to the report of the holding GS Group, in the first quarter, imports decreased by 14% in annual terms.
The structure of purchases has also changed. A year ago, 40% of imports were budget smartphones, the same number were mid-range devices, and 20% were flagships. Now it’s 20/60/20. That is reduced, oddly enough, the lower segment. GS Group experts attribute this to the departure of Samsung and ZTE from Russia, which had many inexpensive models. And also with the change in Xiaomi’s strategy, the brand moved into the middle price category.
The Russians are more likely to buy phones in the range of 10-30 thousand rubles. Here sales increased by 20%.

Sale of Xiaomi smartphones
More than half of the retail market is now occupied by brands from China. This was expected: the most important players – Korean Samsung and American Apple – stopped deliveries. Although the stocks of products certified in Russia will last for another two months.
According to the summary data of the ratings, Chinese and Korean gadgets are in the greatest demand. The first place belongs to Xiaomi Redmi 9A. Apple smartphones go lower: the iPhone 11 is in fourth place, and the iPhone 13 is in eighth. The leaders among manufacturers are Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme. At the same time, Apple dropped one position to number four.
RIA Novosti monitoring showed that the average cost of a smartphone in mid-May remained at the level of last year – about 25 thousand rubles. However, Samsung Galaxy and iPhones have risen in price by one and a half times.
Against this background, the secondary market is growing. On the platforms of free ads “VKontakte”, “Yula” and “Avito”, the turnover of used gadgets increased by 10-15%. And refurbished phones can be increasingly seen at large aggregator sites.
Of course, one of the reasons for the fall in demand is inflation. But there are other factors as well. So, in March, people bought smartphones for future use at sales, which then caused a natural lull. In addition, earlier expensive models were often taken on credit, which became more difficult.
Due to the strengthening of the ruble, the picture may change. Phones purchased at a high exchange rate in February-March are now being sold – and the price of individual positions is simply frightening. The next batch of gadgets should be cheaper.
And yet, many traditionally stock up on “rainy day options” – as was the case with buckwheat during the covid lockdown. Deliveries of classic cell phones skyrocketed by 43%.

Chinese silence
Manufacturers from the PRC contribute to the panic in the market in some way. Russian retailers warn: the range of Chinese models will soon be reduced. Although Beijing has not joined the anti-Russian sanctions, Xiaomi and Lenovo allegedly “drastically reduced supplies,” according to Bloomberg.
According to anonymous sources in the Chinese media, Huawei, Xiaomi and Honor have stopped shipping goods to Russia without making any announcements. It’s impossible to prove it. Manufacturers ignore the requests of journalists, and since the beginning of the year, Chinese customs have stopped disclosing information on the export of smartphones.
Huawei pavilion at the international exhibition of information and communication technologies Communication – 2017 in Moscow – RIA

Huawei pavilion at the international exhibition of information and communication technologies “Communication – 2017” in Moscow
Most technology companies in China use semiconductor chips made by American technology. If they continue to trade with Russia, there is a risk of falling under secondary sanctions. Hence the lack of public comments. Moreover, the authorities are calling for this: the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Shu Jueting, asks “not to succumb to external pressure and not to make inappropriate statements.”
A source in the Chinese smartphone industry told the SouthChina Morning Post, “Right now, everyone is silent. Firstly, no one wants to confront our own government. Secondly, they are afraid of consumer criticism. And thirdly, the Americans cannot be given a reason to impose sanctions.”
Under these circumstances, rumors are circulating. For example, that the giant Huawei Technologies allegedly fired some employees in Russia. The company neither confirmed nor denied this.
In the United States, they assure that China has limited the export of equipment to Russia: laptops – by 40%, smartphones – by 66%. According to the head of the Ministry of Commerce Gina Raimondo, this is “a sign of Beijing’s caution regarding the violation of trade bans.” Again, the PRC remained silent.
But in any case, the shelves in Russian electronics stores will not be empty. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has published a list of categories of goods allowed for “parallel imports”. There are also smartphones. And Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree on the abolition of duties on the import of devices with cryptographic means – almost all consumer electronics.

Dangerous Import
Gray import has always been. Now, of course, its share has increased. For example, the M.Video-Eldorado network announced on May 25 that it was already receiving batches of gadgets from manufacturers that had stopped deliveries. Apple is not concerned with this yet, but you can buy a new iPhone SE on Russian marketplaces. They are brought from the UAE – with a markup of about 50%, which barely covers the cost of logistics. And they make money from sales. However, experts note that demand has been overestimated and there has been a decline in prices.
True, buying such devices is risky: Apple can track them and block them. Selling is also not safe: if a company has a contract with a Californian brand, it is easy to run into fines. At the same time, the experience of Iran shows that Western sanctions do not prevent the sale of gray iPhones and MacBooks there.

There was also a slight hope that Samsung and Apple would return. They applied for permission to sell products on the territory of the EAEU – which includes Russia. Analysts also expect activity from Huawei – their Harmony OS operating system is not associated with Google, which means that devices and the app store will definitely not be blocked for Russians. Under sanctions, independence from transnational giants could play into the hands of a Chinese manufacturer. But how much Huawei, which has already fallen under US restrictions due to its work in Iran, is ready to take the risk, is still unclear. According to the latest information, the company does not get in touch with Russian counterparties.

deferred demand
Experts interviewed by RIA Novosti are confident that the market for smartphones and gadgets will return to growth. The only question is the timing – alas, it is not a fact that this will happen quickly. According to Andrey Plotnikov, an international financial analyst, it will take at least a year.
However, he draws attention to the fact that there is no shortage. Domestic stores and individuals continue to offer any model. And a sharp rise in price is not expected. “For example, prices for Apple in March soared by 80%, but now they have fallen by 40% – and they will not go anywhere in the near future. However, you should be careful with this brand: there are many refurbished smartphones on the market, including those under the guise of new “, said the expert.

According to Vladimir Kuznetsov, deputy head of the Federal Mediation Center, it is premature to draw conclusions. “The data of different retailers differ. For example, with push-button phones: some networks report a decrease, others an increase,” he says. “Supplies of such devices were both last year and earlier, but then no one attached any importance to this.”
Imports from China, according to the interlocutors of RIA Novosti, did not stop. But it has shrunk. Reason: a decrease in demand, which can be considered temporary. But Apple is on the fourth line of the rating – this is a very high figure.
“People are actively buying iPhones, they just switched to previous models,” explains Vladimir Kuznetsov. Here the cost is almost at the pre-sanction level. The “Chinese” did not rise in price much – for example, the popular Xiaomi models rose by 1.3-1.4 times, but this is only a few thousand rubles. Compared to the price of an iPhone, not much.

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