KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Malaysia is one of the cheapest places to buy an iPhone XS and even edges out Singapore marginally in terms of price, according to Deutsche Bank’s latest annual survey covering 56 cities around the globe.
Kuala Lumpur also offers competitive prices for sneaker fans, as branded sports shoes can be bought here at relatively lower prices compared to other cities.
Malaysia is ranked 30th out 40 cities when it comes to getting an iPhone XS.
The 2019 edition of Deutsche Bank’s “Mapping the World’s Prices” shows people here forking out US$1,378 (RM5,775) for the smartphone.
In comparison, in the US (where iPhone’s maker Apple is based) the phone retails at US$1,251. Similar prices are seen in Japan (US$1,256, ranked 38th), Hong Kong (US$1,262, 37th), Australia (US$1,317, 36th) and South Korea (US$1,361).
In other words, an iPhone XS in Malaysia is only 10 per cent more expensive than at official Apple stores in the US, but cheaper than neighbouring Singapore where a brand-new unit costs US$1,386.
Deutsche Bank sourced prices of the phone from official Apple store websites or alternatively from online retailers when the official figures were not available.
And if you are a frequent traveller, you may want to leave your iPhone XS or carry an older or less popular model or brand with you to these next countries.
“Don’t lose or damage your iPhone on holiday in Brazil, Turkey, Argentina, India or Greece as iPhones are 25-65 per cent more expensive than in the US — still the cheapest place to buy outside of Nigeria which we can’t quite explain,” the Deutsche Bank advised in its report.
The same phone is priced at US$2,050 in Brazil and US$1,178 in Nigeria, according to the survey.
The same Deutsche Bank report also ranked Kuala Lumpur 49th out of 55 cities when it comes to prices of a pair of sports shoes such as Nike and Adidas.
In other words, KL is the seventh cheapest city in the survey with such sports shoes priced at US$65.50 down from US$74.10 last year and falling down 16 rungs from the 2014 price ranking when shoes were sold here at a higher price of US$92.80.
While being 30 per cent cheaper than the US for such shoes, Kuala Lumpur is edged out by India’s Bangalore (cheapest at US$58.30), Mumbai, New Delhi; Argentina’s Buenos Aires; Turkey’s Istanbul; and Nigeria’s Lagos, based on the figures sourced from Expatistan for the Deutsche Bank report.
But in Asia, branded sports shoes are cheaper here compared to Dhaka in Bangladesh (US$67.90), Jakarta (US$72.60), Tokyo (US$75.50), Manila (US$81.10), Seoul (US$93.50), Hong Kong (US$96) and Singapore (US$97.60 which also ranks at the 24th most expensive city out of 55 for such sports shoes) and Shanghai (US$101.30).
As for buying a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans or similar, Kuala Lumpur is the 22nd cheapest city to do so, with its ranking this year at 33 out of 55 cities surveyed.
Also based on Expatistan figures, the Deutsche Bank report showed jeans’ prices in Kuala Lumpur falling from US$72.70 five years ago in 2014, to US$68.50 (2018) and to US$64.10 or 14 per cent more expensive than a purchase in the US (2019).
This translates to marginally lower prices this year than cities like Seoul (US$64.40) and Singapore (US$73.40), and relatively higher prices than regional cities like Tokyo (US$57.70), Jakarta (US$47.10), Manila (US$41.50), Dhaka (US$24.50).
For those who want to buy a summer dress in a high-street store like H&M or Zara, Kuala Lumpur is the 13th cheapest city with prices at US$37, down from US$42 (2018) and US$50 (2014). The 13th spot is due to Helsinki and Berlin sharing the same spot in cities where it is cheaper than KL to buy this item.
Regional cities like Manila, Jakarta, Dhaka are cheaper than KL at US$31 this year, but the city’s prices again beat Singapore where such dresses are sold at US$43.
Indulging in sugar and smokes
Some unhealthy indulgences are cheaper in Kuala Lumpur as shown in the Deutsche Bank survey where it is the third cheapest city out of 55 to buy two litres of Coca Cola at US$0.92 this year, down from US$1.27 in 2014 and US$1.12 last year.
This makes KL 62 per cent cheaper than US city New York to buy such sweetened beverages, based on Expatistan figures used in the survey.
In the “Bad Habits Index” in the Deutsche Bank report, Kuala Lumpur has a middling position, where it is the 31st most expensive or the 24th cheapest out of 54 cities to indulge in the bad habits of smoking and drinking beer, depending on how you look at it.
With the bad habits package defined as five beers and two packs of cigarettes, prices in Kuala Lumpur have fallen from US$43.40 (2014) to US$35.50 (2018) and now US$34.80 which is 48 per cent cheaper than in New York (2019).
Kuala Lumpur has a similar average position when it comes to the price of one pint or 500ml of beer in a neighbourhood pub in an expatriate area, ranking 25th most expensive out of 54 cities.
At US$5.30 per pint this year, Kuala Lumpur’s prices are down from US$5.40 in 2018 and US$7.20 in 2014, according to the survey which cited Expatistan figures.
Kuala Lumpur is the 18th cheapest city out of 55 to buy a pack of Marlboro cigarettes this year at US$4.10, based on Expatistan figures in the survey, since two cities in India share a spot in the cities that are cheaper than KL to do so.
Foreign exchange rates
The report tracked 32 indicators in cities around the world to gauge living standards and quality of life, including how currencies in 41 countries compared against the US dollar.
Malaysia was among the countries with the smallest year-on-year decline against the US dollar, with the ringgit weakening by five per cent to 0.2417 this year as compared to last year’s 0.2557. Singapore’s dollar weakened year-on-year by three per cent against the US.
Deutsche Bank observed that the US dollar has strengthened against all currencies except the Egyptian pound in the past 12 months, with the biggest losers of the 42 currencies being the Turkish Lira (-31 per cent) and the Argentine Peso (-55 per cent).
This is consistent with the trend observed since Deutsche Bank started this report in 2012, with the US dollar outperforming all currencies in developing and developed nations surveyed.
Over the past five years, Malaysia’s currency weakened by 21 per cent against the US dollar, joining 26 other countries surveyed that experienced declines over the same period of over 20 per cent.
This ranges from 20 per cent (euro), 23 per cent (UK pound sterling), 24 per cent (Australian dollar) to those with the biggest falls of 59 per cent (Egyptian pound), 64 per cent (Turkish lira) and 82 per cent (Argentine peso).
Other countries whose currencies had lesser declines against the US dollar in the last five years include Singapore, Japan, Bangladesh (-8 per cent), South Korea (-10 per cent), the Philippines (-15 per cent), Indonesia (-18 per cent).