We’re still a few months away from Apple’s new iPhone unveiling, but that hasn’t stopped a number of Chinese retailers from selling the device in advance. They’re using the mockup pictures that have been circulating for weeks to make a quick buck from the hotly-anticipated handset, with some asking for as much as $8,600 a piece.
Reuters spotted the appearance of the device on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, which is part of the Alibaba Group. While some sellers are asking for deposits of around ¥1,000 ($160) to secure the device, one, “Dahai99888,” is asking for the full payment of ¥6,999 ($1,000) upfront. That’s around double the price we’re expecting to see from Apple for the new iPhone unlocked.
According to some of the Taobao sellers that Reuters has spoken to, they are planning to purchase the device in Hong Kong or the United States after its release, and then bring it to mainland China.
“Demand is high. Yesterday someone just bought two phones. Altogether we have about two dozen orders,” said one seller on Taobao who went by the nickname Xiaoyu.
Apple products are traditionally difficult to get hold of in mainland China — despite being built there — and so scalpers are able to make huge profits on them by selling them on the gray market. Apple has tried to put a stop to this by forcing customers to reserve devices online before collecting them front store, and then requiring a photo ID before the devices are released.
But gangs continue to smuggle the devices in from other countries.
“It’s not so easy to bring the phones from overseas, there’s a limit to how many you can carry in…If we could bring in a few thousand that will be great!,” said Xiaoyu.