A shopkeeper surnamed Chan in Mong Kok’s Sin Tat Plaza said she sold around 20 low-priced or older model smartphones on Sunday, mostly to elderly people.
“I installed [the app] for the elderly people if they didn’t know how to… Some people really don’t know how to use a smartphone, just like the customer I served just now. She has never used a smartphone,” Chan said.
A customer surnamed Lam said he was happy to pay HK$800 for a new phone, just for using the government app.
“I didn’t want to install the app on the phone I’m using, because I heard the app will have access to my browsing data and my photos. I know the government has said that the app won’t access my data, but phones are so cheap these days, so I bought a new one to install the app,” he said.
The government said earlier that the app needs access to storage space on people’s phones because it saves check-in information, adding that cloud-based technology used to convert images to text requires access to a user’s mobile network, media and files.
Officials have stressed, however, that LeaveHomeSafe does not automatically send people’s data to the authorities.
A shop selling used phones on Apliu Street in Sham Shui Po also reported good business, saying its HK$399 smartphones – the lowest-priced model it offers – were sold out.
One customer said she would look elsewhere for cheap alternatives, saying the brand or model wasn’t important, as long as the app worked on the phone.