The best tech you can’t buy in South Africa – And how much it will cost to import

South Africa is often left out of the release plans of other companies, and Google, Amazon, and Tesla are among the businesses that don’t sell their products locally.

If you are really eager to get your hands on one of these devices, you have two options:

  • Buy from a local retailer which specialises in imports.
  • Order and have it shipped from abroad yourself.

Note that the prices listed on US websites are subject to additional import taxes, VAT, and shipping fees.

The world’s biggest ecommerce retailer – Amazon – offers a shipping calculator that takes all costs into account if a product is eligible for delivery to South Africa.

Its calculation includes the following:

  • Shipping
  • Import duties
  • 15% VAT
  • Ad valorem (luxury) tax

This means you will pay the full amount upfront and will not get any nasty surprises when the product needs to be moved through customs.

Package forwarding

For most of the products noted above, you will have to use a paid-for parcel-forwarding service such as MyUS.

This provides you with a foreign address to which your package is first delivered. From there, it is transported and shipped to South Africa.

The additional MyUS fee will be determined by the weight of the package, starting at $24.99 (R416) for items weighing less than 1lb (540g).

Customs fees and taxes will then have to be paid directly to the courier.

Buying from importers

Choosing to import also carries the risk of having to ship the item back to the country of origin for repair or replacement at your own cost in the event that it is faulty.

An alternative option is to use retailers like Geewiz and Connected Devices, which specialise in importing gadgets and smartphones that are not officially available in the country.

These companies offer various warranties on their imported stock, which means you won’t be hung out to dry if your device malfunctions.

The tables below show how much it would cost to import some of the most popular devices you cannot buy locally.

Calculations when using a package-forwarding service were not included in this comparison.

We have provided more information on these products below the import costs below.

Smart devices

Products Geewiz Amazon (own import)
Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker (3rd gen) R995
Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker with Clock (3rd gen) R1,296
Amazon Echo Plus Smart Speaker (2nd gen) R3,695
Amazon Echo Smart Speaker (3rd gen) R3,100
Amazon Echo Wireless Buds R3,254
Amazon Echo Show 5 Compact Smart Display R1,785
Amazon Ring Floodlight Network Surveillance Camera R5,499
Amazon Ring Video Doorbell V3 R3,849
Amazon Ring Doorbell Chime R915
Amazon Ring Battery-powered Spotlight Camera R3,844
Amazon Ring Hardwired Spotlight Camera R3,833
Chromecast with Google TV R1,659
Google Nest Hub R2,060
Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell R4,895
Google Nest Mini Smart Speaker R895
Google Nest Secure Alarm Kit R8,599
Google Nest Wi-Fi Router R4,590 R3,409
Google Nest Wi-Fi Point R4,589
Google Nest Wi-Fi Point and Router (2 pack) R7,303
Google Nest Wi-Fi Point and Router (3 pack) R9,488
Google Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm R3,445
Nvidia Shield TV R4,485
Nvidia Shield TV Pro R6,485 R4,263

Smartphones

Products Connected Devices Amazon (own import)
Google Pixel 3 XL R13,199 (128GB) R8,446 (64GB)
Google Pixel 3a 64GB R7,622
Google Pixel 4 64GB R17,399 R14,187
Google Pixel 4 XL 64GB R19,899 R17,357
Motorola Razr 128GB R22,999
Motorola Razr 5G 256GB R25,507

Amazon Echo and Ring

Ecommerce giant Amazon offers a range of smart home and security devices with Alexa integration in its respective Echo and Ring ranges.

The Echo series features large and small smart speakers which allow for interaction via voice control, which lets the user play music, make to-do lists, stream podcasts or audiobooks, and get updates on weather, traffic, and other information.

It can also be used in conjunction with other smart devices, acting as a home automation hub.

Ring offers gadgets such as security cameras, alarms, contact sensors, motion detectors, and alarm keypads.

Amazon Ring Always Home Cam


Google Chromecast

Despite being available as a parallel import from several South African retailers, Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle is not officially available in the country.

When plugged into a TV’s HDMI port, the Chromecast is able to receive streamed content from a nearby PC or mobile device connected on the same Wi-Fi network, effectively acting as a smart TV box.

The company recently launched a new version of the Chromecast, which includes a Google TV app that aggregates content across streaming platforms to act as a single search and curation engine for movies and shows.

The Chromecast with Google TV supports streaming in 4K HDR and also includes a remote, so you won’t have to use your computer or peripherals to navigate the interface.


Google Nest

Google’s Nest range includes a wide variety of smart home devices such as speakers Wi-Fi routers, doorbells, thermostats, smart hubs, alarm systems, and security cameras.

These gadgets can serve as packages providing your home with intuitive audio or video entertainment, or a security system.

Google Nest Audio


Google Pixel smartphones

Google’s Pixel smartphones have been around since 2016, but have never been officially available in South Africa.

These phones have been praised for offering great camera capabilities and solid design in a light and compact form-factor.

The latest iteration – the Pixel 5 – was launched at the end of September – and boasts a 6.0-inch 1,080 x 2,340 OLED display, dual-camera, and 5G connectivity.

Google Pixel 5 2


Motorola Razr 5G

Motorola’s original Razr was a massive global hit back when it launched in 2004.

While the company’s attempt at a version with a foldable display released early in 2020 has not been as successful as that phone, it still makes for an enticing piece of hardware.

The second-generation of this foldable device includes a better processor and 5G connectivity.


Nvidia Shield TV

Nvidia’s Shield TV and Shield TV Pro are high-performing smart boxes with advanced streaming features.

They include support for streaming in 4K HDR, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos, and also offer Google Assistant and Alexa integration for voice control.

The supported video and music streaming apps include Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies and TV, Plex, Vudu, and more.

They can also stream games in 4K via Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud game streaming service.

Nvidia Shield TV

Now read: How much money you can save by buying second-hand tech in South Africa

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The best tech you can’t buy in South Africa – And how much it will cost to import