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Brazilians pay most for new iPhone

Apple's latest iPhone went on sale in Brazil from Friday - but consumers there were being asked to pay the most of anywhere in the world, thanks largely to sky-high import taxes.

The Internet-browsing handset was on sale for more than 1,000 dollars - far higher than the 200-dollar price-tag in the United States, where the units were offered only at subsidized prices for users with longterm cellphone service contracts.

According to a comparative list of Apple Store prices compiled by the portal of Brazilian magazine publisher Abril, iPhones in Brazil were clearly the most expensive country to buy the trendy device.

The "cheapest" 16-gigabyte model was being offered for 1,048 dollars, while the pricier 32-GB model was going for 1,223 dollars.

Excluding the United States and Japan, where subsidies applied to iPhone prices, the cheapest place in the world to buy the handset alone was Hong Kong, where it was offered at 643 dollars for the 16-GB unit and 759 dollars for the 32-GB version.

After Brazil, the second-priciest country was Italy, where the 16-GB model was priced at 848 dollars and the 32-GB model at 1,021 dollars.

Brazil is consistently among the most expensive countries in the world to buy consumer technology.

The government slaps a 100-percent tax on all such imported electronics to protect its domestic manufacturers, which make less-capable products whose look is often shamelessly copied on the international competition.

While the eye-watering sticker price was likely to dampen demand in Brazil for the iPhone, mobile telecom companies nonetheless see a bright future in Latin America's biggest market.

The country has 96 percent mobile telephone penetration, with nearly all of the 193-million strong population owning a cellphone, and is already fifth in the world for the number of cellphone operator subscriptions, behind India, China, Russia and the United States.