Apple’s latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets will go on sale in China beginning Oct. 17, the company announced Tuesday, adding that the new devices will be available in the Apple Online Store and company retail stores. Customers will also be able to purchase the new iPhones through authorized resellers and carrier partners in the country.
The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will support TD-LTE and FDD-LTE technologies, the two variants of the Long Term Evolution technology standard, to provide customers access to 4G LTE networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom across mainland China. Customers can preorder the new iPhones from the company’s online store beginning Oct. 10, and the devices can be reserved for in-store purchases starting a week later, according to Apple.
The announcement came a day after China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, approved the use of both iPhone 6 versions on the country’s wireless networks. To win the regulator’s approval, Apple had to ensure that it had done enough to safeguard users’ privacy. The company also said it would not access users’ data without their consent and that it will not build a “backdoor” to provide consumer data to unauthorized agencies.
“Apple is coming under greater scrutiny on personal data security from the government,” Shaun Rein, managing director for China Market Research Group in Shanghai, told Bloomberg. “This is definitely starting to affect consumers and some are thinking twice about buying Apple now because the government has made them nervous.”
According to Apple, the 16GB version of the iPhone 6 will retail for 5,288 yuan ($861), while the 64GB and 128GB versions of the device will cost 6,088 yuan ($991) and 6,888 yuan ($1,122), respectively. The company will charge 6,088 yuan for the 16GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus, while the 64GB and 128GB models of the device will retail for 6,888 yuan and 7,788 yuan ($1,268), respectively.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus hit stores in 10 markets including the U.S., Hong Kong, Japan and Australia on Sept. 19, before releasing in another 20 countries a week later. Although the new iPhones were not released in mainland China at the time, the devices were selling in the black market at nearly double the retail tag at company stores in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported, adding that both the new handsets continue to sell in Beijing at premiums between 47 percent and 87 percent over the Hong Kong price.
China is a significant market for Apple, one where it is currently ranked sixth with a smartphone market share of 6 percent. In the June quarter, Apple generated $5.9 billion in smartphone sales -- about 16 percent of the company’s total -- from the Greater China region, including Taiwan and Hong Kong.