There can be many different reasons to buy a smartphone in another country. But I see two main ones – saving and buying a device that is not officially sold in Russia. Often these two moments are combined at once, if you do not want to overpay the local 'serovoz'. Therefore, today we will talk about five ways to make a purchase from abroad.
Order directly from China (AliExpress and others)
The most famous marketplace for Russian users is the Chinese AliExpress. Almost rhymed. This site is suitable for buying smartphones from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Meizu, OnePlus. But it is important to first clarify whether this or that Chinese version of the smartphone will work correctly in Russian networks.
Even iPhone, Samsung and Pixel are presented on 'alik', but I would not recommend buying anything other than 'Chinese' on it, since most non-Chinese devices are 'refs', that is, refurbished Chinese craftsmen used devices. Some of you may want to take a chance, because where else can you find iPhone SE for 7 thousand rubles or Google Pixel for 10 thousand? But reviews of such devices are usually divided in a 50/50 ratio – someone is happy with the purchase and does not experience any problems, while someone complains about strong heat, a 'dead' battery or an artisanal assembly with a peel-off display. A cat in a poke, and nothing more.
Now, for example, the OnePlus 7/7 Pro is booming on AliExpress, since the device has not officially arrived in Russia yet.
It should be borne in mind that its price may not fit into the free customs norm of up to 500 euros per month, and you will have to pay 30% of the amount exceeding this threshold. But now, in the case of AliExpress and Russian Post, there are no problems. The post office will notify you of the need to pay the duty and offer to pay immediately in a convenient way. The main thing is not to miss this notice, since only 10 days are given to pay the duty, otherwise the parcel will be sent back from customs. In some cases, you can pay the duty upon receipt of the goods. If the delivery will be carried out by transport companies, they will also notify you of the need to pay the duty and suggest ways to do this.
As for the warranty, each seller on AliExpress has its own terms. Someone will give a guarantee from their store and, in the event of a breakdown, will offer to send the goods to China. Someone works with service centers in Russia, but it is not a fact that he will be in your city, and, most likely, he will be unofficial. In general, when buying a smartphone from abroad, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will have to repair it at your own expense. And all the alleged guarantees from the “Chinese” are often dust in the eyes.
Besides AliExpress, there are a few other popular sites like Gearbest or Banggood, but the buying principle is roughly the same. The main thing is to study reviews of both the seller and the site as a whole.
Order directly from Europe (Computeruniverse and others)
In addition to Chinese online platforms with direct delivery to Russia, there are also European ones. One of the most famous is the German online store Computeruniverse. He has been sending orders to our country for many years and even at some point launched the Russian-language version of the site.
Mostly Russian users “stock up” there with computers, components and laptops, although you can often find interesting offers in the smartphones section. For example, now you can buy a Google Pixel 2XL 128 GB for 23 thousand, Galaxy S10 + for 48 thousand and iPhone XR for 46 thousand rubles. This is about 5-10 thousand rubles savings in comparison with “gray” stores and up to 30 thousand in comparison with the official retail.
Delivers Computeruniverse using the Russian Post, delivery times are on average from two weeks to a month. Payment of duties for purchases over 500 euros per month is carried out in the same way as parcels from AliExpress. The store has a 2-year warranty, but the defective product will have to be sent to Germany in any case. If the defect was found within 6 months, the store will reimburse the cost of return shipping, and if more time passes, you will have to send it at your own expense. At the same time, Computeruniverse itself does not engage in diagnostics and repairs, but forwards the goods directly to the manufacturer. As you might guess, it will take a lot of time. Judging by the reviews, the terms of such warranty service can be several months. And that's the potential price to pay for the opportunity to save.
Order through a reseller in the USA or Europe
Since not every store, especially in the United States, will bother sending goods to Russia, a large number of intermediaries have appeared on the Internet who provide users with virtual addresses in the United States, and some even in Europe. The principle of their work is quite simple: you order the goods yourself to the address provided to you, the intermediary receives your goods and sends them to you for a fee.
There are many nuances in working with intermediaries, so I recommend that you carefully study their sites and all accompanying documentation. Some online stores, for example, the official Apple Store or Google Store, may not send certain products to reseller addresses. Therefore, before ordering, it is worth reading reviews, and if the desired store is not 'friendly' with intermediaries, then you should look for alternative options.
There are a lot of intermediaries – Shopfans, Box Forward, LiteMF, Qwintry, Polar Express and many others. Everyone has their own prices and conditions, so I won't recommend anyone specifically. In my life, I used the services of intermediaries only a couple of times, and it cost about 2-4 thousand rubles. This is beneficial if you order several products at once – the service allows you to combine them into one package and issue a single invoice. But piece and inexpensive purchases are better done in other ways, because the cost of delivery can kill all the benefits.
One way or another, for some goods and stores, intermediaries remain almost the only way to buy online for a resident of Russia. And if not the only, then the fastest way to get the latest gadget that just appeared on American shelves. For example, something from Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Ask a friend
The easiest and often free way to buy something overseas is to ask a friend traveling to the desired country. But in 99% of cases, such a friend is not at hand, so we will immediately move on to the fifth method that will help find such a person.
Find 'friend' via aggregator (Grabr)
An interesting model for buying something abroad is offered by a California startup with Russian founders Grabr. Its principle is quite simple: you place an order on the site, where you describe what you want, how much it costs and where you can buy it. Travelers who travel to the desired country or city can look at the general order feed, and if they are satisfied with the reward set by you, they will take your order and bring the necessary gadget personally. The service itself acts as a guarantor of the transaction – you pay the amount of goods and remuneration, they are credited to the Grabr account, and the contractor will receive them only when you confirm receipt in the application. That is, he will buy the desired product for his money.
It looks interesting, but it should be borne in mind that most of the “couriers” return to Moscow and St. Petersburg, that is, the service will not be so attractive for residents of the regions. Although you can try to arrange via chat for the 'friend' to send the goods with the transport company, and you will include these costs in the reward on Grabr. As for the popular destinations where the goods are brought from, the USA is in the lead here.
Unfortunately, I have never used the service yet, so I ask you to tell about a similar experience in the comments, if you had one.
As you can see, there are many ways to buy this or that product that is not available in Russia. Some are simpler and cheaper, while others are more complicated and more expensive. Share your experience in the comments, and also be sure to point out those options that I might have forgotten. And good shopping!