For those unfamiliar with MobileCityOnline, they are one of the best online resources selling unlocked and rare smart phones. They carry the latest and greatest smartphones that are otherwise unavailable in North America. With exotic inventories like the LG Viewty, iMate 9502 to HTC Diamond (which they've already had the Euro edition in-stock but was sold out instantly), they are definitely the place to visit if you want the best in mobile devices!
Recently, contributing editor Greg Hanffou and I got a chance to visit their physical store in New York City. Located in a neighborhood known as Tribeca, this brick and mortar store is very unique and a definite gem for mobile enthusiasts. Because this location hosts the same warehouse as their online business, it's very likely they have all of their products in stock. Perfect for those with little patience and want their gadgets right away.
MobileCityOnline started back in 2001 as a web-only operation. As the years go on, they've tried a few operations with physical locations. It wasn't until two years ago, they've gotten more serious with this Tribeca store. The store is very clean and organized with all of their phones and accessories lined up on different sides of the walls. "The store is an extension or show room for their online store," said Jessica Annicelli, General Manager of Mobile city.
MobileCity specializes in non-contracted GSM network phones but they also stock phones in non-GSM networks. The selection and inventory is dazzling, some of the latest smartphones I've seen from my Asia trip is available in their store. They do not deal with opening accounts with GSM network carriers. This keeps their business simple! Most phones can be purchased unlocked or locked(some) as the customer desires. They leave you with the option of buying locked phones to keep your warranty intact. MobileCity has a strong relationship with many manufacturers, this is the why they can bring the latest models directly to their store. They pride themselves in carrying only the highest quality OEM accessories in the business (ie. from Nokia, BlackBerry, Samsung, SonyEricsson, Krusell, etc.).
The customers who visit MobileCity can be tourists throughout different parts of the world and/or local NY residents who travel frequently. This is because MobileCity provides products which meet the demands of these customers and their geographical needs. GSM network has up to quad bands just for its voice network and half a dozen bands just for 3G/3.5G data; you can be at ease with MobileCity's inventory and staff expertise. When asked, MobileCity does feel that there is a shift in demand in the U.S. to buy more unlocked phones as customers are growing more aware of their mobile options while this technology matures. MobileCity takes pride in offering good customer service; they listen to their customers' demand and try to find the products people are looking for. In addition, they are constantly visiting online websites such as Engadget, PhoneScoop GSM Arena and/or catching up on Mobile Awards to find the best products to stock up.
I asked about the status of some of the highly anticipated phones in the pipeline (ie. BlackBerry Bold, HTC Touch Diamond, and Sony Xperia X1) and they showed me a feature on their website which gives me product updates/alerts and keeps me in the loop. When asked what is the hottest smartphone in demand today, they said a lot of customers have been inquiring about the recently announced HTC Touch Pro (Raphael). However, HTC Touch Cruise and Nokia Nseries (N95, N82) have been selling strong as well.
I think MobileCityOnline is a very cool store with a lot of exotic unlocked phones. Its intimate store front provides a boutique-like experience for those lucky enough to pay them a visit. The store reminds me of the many specialty mobile boutiques I would see throughout Asian strip malls (ie. LG, Nokia, Samsung, and SonyEricsson stores). Nevertheless, their online store offers the most convenience for users to visit 24/7 offering all the information and updates one will need for a specific product. The staff at MobileCity are friendly and knowledgeable to GSM phones. So, if you are not familiar with them, pay them a visit, online or offline!
Special thanks to Anna Blinova and Jessica Annicelli for taking their time and inviting us to their store.