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How to Buy a Legit, Less Expensive iPhone in Greenhills

It's legit if you're smart.
by Joel Guinto
Mar 5, 2021
Photo/s: Apple

Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan is the epicenter of gadget lust in Metro Manila. It's the place to score bargains on smartphones if you know where to look and what to watch out for.

For one, iPhones in Greenhills are priced much lower than those in official stores. An iPhone 12 Pro Max costs P59,900 in Greenhills (as of March 5, 2021), compared to P68,990 in official Apple stores. That's P9,000 savings.

Why are smartphones cheaper in Greenhills?

The obvious answer, they have lower operating costs. It's way cheaper to maintain a glass cage display in a Greenhills tiange than an airconditioned store with a full staff and security guards.

Sellers also communicate directly with suppliers overseas, according to the vendors themselves. This is why iPhones and Samsung flagships in Greenhills are mostly from Hong Kong (HK variant iPhones are also dual SIM). This also explains why tiangge sellers can sell iPhones and Galaxy Notes before the official stores do.

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This direct line to overseas sellers also allows Greenhills merchants to sell smartphones that are not officially available in the Philippines, like the Google Pixel.


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Are Greenhills smartphones legit?

Yes, as long as you know what to look out for.

The easiest way is to check the serial number and IMEI on the phone and verify it on the internet. For iPhones, Apple has an IMEI checker where you can determine the warranty coverage of all iPhones.

Do this regardless if the phone is brand new or second-hand.

Here's a pro tip: Check the IMEI and serial number on the phone (in the settings) and check if it is the same as the IMEI and serial number on the box. If the two are different, it's a red flag. At the very least, your seller is not being forthright.

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If you're buying second-hand and are uneasy over the source (even if the unit passes the IMEI check), ask the seller about the previous owner of the device. They should at least have that person's ID as it is required by tiangge management.

Also, ask the seller if the unit is refurbished or not. Refurbished in tiangge-speak means that some of the phones parts could have been replaced. Be careful too when they drop jargon like OEM and GPP. If it's called anything but authentic, it sure isn't

Here's another pro-tip: Buy from sellers with physical stores and ask for a receipt with their working contact numbers. You could be tempted by ambulant sellers who whisper to you about gadgets for sale.


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Is there a warranty in Greenhills?

Official Apple resellers in the country require receipts when processing repairs that are covered by warranty. So, for those bought in a tiangge, no. If your seller says it's covered by Apple warranty, ask them how to process it.

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However, the more savvy Greenhills seller will offer a direct replacement for factory defects over a certain period, say three or five days. Some, up to seven. Ask your seller about it.

This word of honor, I tested for myself. There was this one time, I got a lemon Galaxy S10 Plus that kept randomly rebooting. It got replaced within hours. I was also once sold a Smart-locked iPhone X when I'm on Globe. It too got replaced in a flash. That's the value of the suki relationship.

If it's second-hand and bought from an official store, ask for the official receipt and the box. There's a chance you could talk your way to warranty repairs. Bear in mind however that resale could automatically void warranty.


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Should you buy smartphones in Greenhills?

Yes, if you want to save some cash. If you can afford it and you need that peace of mind, get it from the official store. Just remember to check the unit and engage the seller.

Greenhills is also a boneyard for gadgets working and otherwise so there's a good chance your drawer full of old iPhones are still worth some cash. Don't expect much though. With the exception of Apple products, prices depreciate fast. For most brands, it's 50% off the retail price upon resale after just a couple of months.

Smartphones are not investments like real estate or stocks. Their value only depreciates over time. If you save money buying a gadget in a Greenhills tiangge, don't blow it on a trade-in a few weeks later. Unless, of course, you do tech reviews and make money off your videos.

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