The iPhone 3G is now available in Egypt. It is sold by Vodafone and mobinil. The iPhone 3G will cost the same from both carriers: 3800 EGP (2,615 SR/$698) for the 8GB model and 4450 EGP (3,065 SR/$817) for the 16GB model. And there is no subsidized price!
There are a few problems with this release:
GPS is banned in Egypt and the only way for the iPhone 3G to be sold in Egypt is by disabling GPS from the firmware. Apple’s official iPhone 3G for Egypt site has omitted the term “GPS”. Compare that to any other country’s page. The Vodafone spec page for the iPhone 3G also doesn’t mention GPS.
No Arabic language support
Egypt is an Arabic speaking country. As of iPhone firmware 2.1 there is no Arabic language support in the device. You could view Arabic characters but they are separated, making them unreadable. And of course you cannot write any Arabic text. The only solution is to jailbreak your iPhone 3G and purchase iPhoneislam’s “Arabtaller Pro”.
No Egypt iTunes App Store
Good luck installing application in your new iPhone 3G because until now there is no Egypt iTunes App Store. Countries without an iPhone 3G release like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have their own App Stores by the way.
Who will fix it?
If you clicked on “Help & Support” on Vodafone’s iPhone 3G page. You will be redirected to (www.apple.com/support/iphone/eg/), a page that doesn’t exist. Which raises the question, who will handle the service and repair of the iPhone 3G in Egypt?
How to activate the iPhone 3G?
I found this activation steps PDF on Vodafone’s site and it asks that you install iTunes 7.7 (iTunes 8 is out for over a month now) for Windows? I am sorry but this is the worst set of instructions I have seen from a company as big as Vodafone.
The iPhone 3G in Egypt is very crippled and I don’t believe this is the experience that Apple wants for their customers. I hope those issues get fixed soon.
I do expect a large number of those iPhone 3Gs will be hardware SIM unlocked and sold in other countries as well.