Scalpers cash in on sold-out iPhone 7s as Asia is 1st to get Apple's latest models

Reselling the iPhone 7 right outside the Apple Store
Reselling the iPhone 7 right outside the Apple Store

The law of supply and demand ruled in Hong Kong, as Apple fans queued to be among the first in the world to get their hands on an iPhone 7, and some just as quickly sold them on for a 100 percent profit.

There was a healthy queue outside the Causeway Bay Apple store in Hong Kong on Friday, but not everyone was in luck.

Apple said on Thursday that the iPhone 7 Plus had sold out worldwide on pre-orders, as had the iPhone 7 in jet back.

However as the old saying goes, where there is a will, and a ton of cash, there is a way.

Just a few feet from the Apple store, scalpers armed with empty suitcases, fists full of cash and chairs in readiness for a long day, were offering as much as $1,700 for an iPhone 7 Plus, which was priced from 8,288 Hong Kong dollars ($849) in the store.

The scalpers, from mainland China and Hong Kong, were offering premiums ranging from hundreds to thousands of Hong Kong dollars, depending on the model and the time of purchase from Apple.

With some coveted models sold out, there was already a thriving re-sale market evident in Hong Kong, with local news site Apple Daily - no relation to Apple - reporting that a jet black iPhone 7 Plus 256 GB model was reselling at one Hong Kong mall for 15,000 Hong Kong dollars ($1,933.21).

Apple's suggested retail price for the handsets began at $649 for the iPhone 7 and $769 for the iPhone 7 Plus.

iPhone 7 goes on release
iPhone 7 goes on release

First time lucky

Allan Chan, however, lucked out. The Hong Kong native was the first person in the special administrative region to get his hands on two of the new handsets, after he queued from around 7:30 a.m. HK/SIN at the Causeway Bay store.

He picked up two iPhone 7 Plus' in pink for family members, but did not manage to get another iPhone 7 handset in black as he'd wanted.

Elsewhere around the region, the hype around the iPhone appeared to be very much alive, even though reports suggested the turnout was smaller than in previous years, possibly due to the increasing popularly of pre-ordering.

Fans in Sydney weathered drizzle to line up outside the Apple Store, becoming some of the world's first owners of the new models.

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In Singapore, some fans set up tents to camp out on Thursday night in a bid to be the one of the first few to get their hands on the handsets.

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But across Singapore, there were few queues because the major telcos ensure that all pre-order customers receive a phone. IT architect Wellson Lee, 38, was the first iPhone 7 customer for local telco Singtel, heading for the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre to buy a black iPhone 7.

Buyers queue outside an Apple resales store in Tampines, Singapore, on September 16 to buy the just-released iPhone 7.
Roxanne Lim | CNBC

In New Zealand, local telco Spark deployed robots to queue on behalf of customers.

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Apple revealed the new handsets on September 7 and opened online pre-ordering September 9. The handsets were released in 25 countries on Friday, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S.

Users in India, however, must wait until October 7 for the iPhone 7.

"We sincerely appreciate our customers' patience as we work hard to get the new iPhone into the hands of everyone who wants one as quickly as possible," Apple said in a statement.

Initial reviews praised the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus handsets for their new camera, faster processing speeds and noticeable improvements to water resistance, battery life and memory.

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