Why iPhones Cost More in Europe than in the US

Every year, Apple releases its latest iPhone models to the eager anticipation of its vast customer base.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Why iPhones Cost More in Europe than in the US
© Getty Images News/Mario Tama

Every year, Apple releases its latest iPhone models to the eager anticipation of its vast customer base. But not all customers are created equal, at least in terms of what they have to pay. The new iPhone 15 Pro Max, despite being the apple of many a tech enthusiast’s eye, reveals a long-standing issue: the price discrepancy between the US and European markets.

A Tradition of Steep Prices

Priced at $1,199 (€1,131) in the United States, the iPhone 15 Pro Max already bears a hefty tag. However, European buyers might be left feeling shortchanged, with the same device costing up to nine percent more than its predecessor in the eurozone.

This disparity is further evident when comparing the device's price across different European countries. Take, for instance, France, where it costs EUR 1,479, or Germany, where the device goes for EUR 1,449, and Italy where it's priced at a whopping EUR 1,489.

To put things into perspective, even the more basic iPhone 15 model retails at a higher price in Europe: €969 in France, €949 in Germany, and €979 in Italy, compared to the US price of $800 (€754).

Tax Disparities: A Part of the Puzzle

One can't discuss the price difference without acknowledging the tax systems.

In the US, the Value Added Tax (VAT) is added after purchase, and the rate varies by federal state, oscillating between 2.9 and 7.25 percent. This means that in places like Washington, the VAT for the iPhone 15 Pro Max is $71.94 (€67.90), while in Los Angeles, it rises to $113.91 (€107.52).

Yet, even after accounting for these taxes, the overall cost remains significantly lower than in European countries.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

This price inconsistency isn't a novelty. Recall the iPhone X launch in 2017, when social media users humorously suggested that flying to the US for purchase would be more cost-effective than buying in Europe.

But even this strategy isn't foolproof, given the customs duty awaiting on their return, potentially adding hundreds of euros to the overall cost. In response to these pricing concerns, Apple has stated that their international pricing structure considers factors like currency exchange rates, import laws, business practices, taxes, and the general cost of doing business.

Apple points out, as Euronews reported, “These factors vary from region to region and over time, such that international prices are not always comparable to US suggested retail prices”. However, these explanations might provide cold comfort to European consumers feeling the pinch.

As technology advances and our world becomes more interconnected, one can only hope for a future where tech enthusiasts worldwide can enjoy the latest gadgets without such considerable price discrepancies.

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