Next China bound iPhone to get WiFi

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by Mike
Posted October 30th, 2009 at 5:33 am

Penetrating and actually turning a buck in the lucrative and downright massive mobile user market in China has been the dream of many cellphone manufacturers. Given the Chinese government’s tight control however, such dreams have stayed at just that as stiff regulations and often odd rules make entering the market so difficult some manufacturers simply stay away. One such manufacturer who is trying their luck is Apple. As many of you know, they’re been trying to tap the Chinese market for some time now but have so fare been unsuccessful. We all also know that Apple recently struck a deal with China Unicom to sell the iPhone 3GS in China, a big win for Apple. But is it really that much of a win for Chinese customers?

Now why would I raise such a silly question? Chinese mobile users have been able to get unlocked iPhone 3GS’s with WiFi from street side vendors for roughly 5,700 yuan ($835 USD). The new official phones from China Unicom are coming in hot and heavy but lacking WiFi. Yup, pass. Even worse, prices for Unicom’s iPhone are grossly higher — between 4,999 yuan ($730 USD) and 6,999 yuan ($1,025 USD)! Why would anyone want to spend more for less? Beats me. It’s hard to say if China Unicom’s iPhone’s will/won’t be a big hit. I can honestly see both scenarios. (1) It sells well because now every has a legitimate source to get it or (2) it’s so expensive that people flock to street vendors who understandably have limited quantities thereby driving up price. If the latter plays out, maybe rising street prices will limit the sting from picking up China Unicom’s neutered version. After getting this far in, I’m sure you’re wondering why the iPhone 3GS from China Unicom doesn’t have WiFi.

It’s simple really. At the time, Beijing banned WiFi because they were working on their own version. That’s it. That has since been abandoned (please correct me if I’m wrong) and as such the ban has been lifted. By the time the ban was lifted however, China Unicom’s iPhones had already started production. Bummer I know. It’s just a reason to wait for the next version of the iPhone which Unicom spokesman, Yi Difei, stated “We hope to have WiFi in the next version”. Some comfort I guess.

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2 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • dsi
    October 30, 2009 at 7:04 am
    Reply

    Is this for iPhone users to use on their i Phone-only, or are they able to use their Laptop on AT&T wi fi as well..

    • Mike
      October 30, 2009 at 9:19 am
      Reply

      The WiFi on China Unicom’s iPhone lacks WiFi. Whether it’s a hardware or software lock I’m not sure. Still, you can’t use it. If you get an imported iPhone with WiFi you can use it for pretty much what every want.

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