iPhone resellers in China slash prices as sales fall

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iPhone-discount-Suning
Shoppers can save as much as $212 on iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

iPhone resellers in China are offering big discounts on Apple’s latest handsets in an effort to reverse falling sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suning, one of Apple’s largest retail partners in China, is offering discounts of up to 1,500 yuan (approximately $212) on the iPhone 11 series. The move is expected to trigger further price adjustments on other 4G smartphones.

Apple has had a tough time making iPhone a huge success in China. The higher price tags make the latest Apple devices unattainable for most, while strong competition from local brands like Huawei and Xiaomi doesn’t help.

For a short spell earlier this year, it looked like iPhone sales in China were finally on the up. Then along came the coronavirus outbreak. In February, when COVID-19 hit its peak in China, fewer than 500,000 iPhones were sold.

MyDrivers reported on April 4 that retailers are now slashing prices in an effort to shift iPhone units.

iPhone prices cut in China

Suning.com is offering discounts of 500 yuan ($71) on iPhone, and up to 1,200 yuan ($169) on iPhone 11 Pro. These models now start at 4,999 yuan ($705) and 7,499 yuan ($1,057), respectively. The biggest discount of 1,500 yuan applies to iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is now available from 7,999 yuan ($1,128).

Industry experts expect the cuts to start a chain reaction, with other handset-makers now likely to reduce their prices in response. Only handsets with 5G connectivity may be unaffected by the discounts.

Pan Jiutang, a partner of the Xiaomi Industry Investment Department, believes 5G handsets are safe because they already offer attractive price-to-performance ratios. The spread of high-speed 5G networks continues to accelerate in China. 5G iPhones should debut this fall if the coronavirus doesn’t cause delays.

Apple offers its own discounts

Suning’s discounts come just weeks after Apple made its own price cuts on iPhone in China. However, Apple’s discounts focused on older models, like iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Other third-party retailers, including Tmall and JD.com, starting cutting iPhone prices earlier this year.

Only time will tell how much of an impact COVID-19 will have on Apple, both in China and the rest of the world. Sales likely will crater globally — hence Apple’s decision to revise its second-quarter forecast.

When it comes to new products, some observers think this year’s iPhone refresh might escape delays. However, future Apple releases could suffer.