People sprucing up their phones for Tet

By Khuong Nha   January 17, 2023 | 01:54 am PT
People around Vietnam are giving their mobile phones a new look as they prepare to celebrate the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

Instead of buying brand-new smartphones, some revelers are shelling out money for new phone cases or for repairs or to have batteries replaced ahead of Tet, which falls in late this month.

Thanh Minh, a businessman from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), uses a Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro. The 28-year-old admits that after using his phone for so long, it has become a bit "boring," even though it still works well.

He recently became more interested in fengshui (geomancy) after becoming a businessman selling goods online, and he spent VND2.1 million ($90) for professionals to make the back of his phone completely resemble a Silver iPhone 14 Pro with the hope that the auspicious color will bring him good luck.

A woman holds up two cat-theme iPhone cases. Photo by VnExpress/Vinh Tran

A woman holds up two cat-themed iPhone cases. Photo by VnExpress/Vinh Tran

Meanwhile, Thu Uyen from Da Nang recently purchased three different cat-themed phone cases in the style of the fictional character Pikachu from Pokemon to use during Lunar New Year (Tet). The 28-year-old said that since each case only costs about VND100,000, she doesn’t mind splurging on this hobby.

With the Year Of The Cat right around the corner, said a person on works for an online store selling accessories, cat-themed phone cases are in high demand. The person said that the store receives thousands of orders on some days.

Unique Pokemon-inspired designs have been selling like hotcakes. Though the material and colors of the new and old Tet-themed phone cases remain the same, the average price of each one has gone up by a few tens of thousands of dong.

In the higher-end segment, many stylized phone cases that cost millions of dong are also heavily sought after.

Hang Dang, owner of phone gadget store HD Accessory, said the transparent "nothing phone cases," like the Spigen Zero One, are currently the store's best-selling items though they cost up to VND1.5 million. Accessories in the color purple are also selling well.

"Even though the economic downturn hurt the market as a whole, the phone accessories industry is growing by about 30% in the last month," she said.

Aside from accessories, the number of phone repairs also is also shooting up ahead of Tet.

Do Nguyen Tan Trang, who works for phone repair shop Vien Di Dong, which has outlets across Vietnam, said that the number of people who wanted their phones fixed in the last few days was 10% higher than the month before and 15% higher than the same time last year.

A representative of Vui Phone said that the demand for fixing phones and computers has skyrocketed in the last two weeks alone. Most people fix their phones before returning to their hometowns for Tet, in some cases in order to give their used devices to family members.

"During this time, a lot of customers use our repair service which means our store is often full," the representative said.

Many major phone repair stores say that iPhone users fix up their phones six times more often than Android users. Some of the most popular services are replacing the battery, replacing a broken screen, or replacing the case.

Customers inside an authorized Apple service center in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Sang Duong

Customers inside an authorized Apple service center in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Sang Duong

Because people are out and about all day during Tet, battery concerns are a big deal for many people. Some authorized Apple service centers in Vietnam say that the number of customers coming in to replace batteries, mostly for iPhone 12 Pro Max models, is up sharply at this time of the year. On the market, it costs anywhere from VND400,000 to several million dong to change the battery in a smartphone.

Trang says that there is no shortage of parts this year because supply chains are stable. Only some old phones will run out of parts since they are no longer being produced.

She said that many stores have been asking employees to work extra hours because demand is expected to drop on Wednesday, three days before Tet.


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