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iPhones are much cheaper in China… but not cheap enough for some

iPhone XR is US$180 cheaper from some retailers than the Apple Store

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Remember last week when people blamed Apple’s revenue woes on expensive iPhones? Well, those handsets are now much cheaper on some of China’s biggest shopping sites -- up to US$180 less than China’s Apple Store.

But some netizens think the lower price still isn’t enough to get them to buy.

On, the iPhone 8 is selling for 3,999 yuan (US$592) -- around US$160 cheaper than in China’s Apple Store. (That’s also a few dollars cheaper than in the US Apple Store, which is rare: New iPhone models usually carry a US$200-$300 premium in China.)

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Meanwhile in a pre-Lunar New Year sale, retail giant Suning is offering the iPhone XR 128GB for as low as 5,799 yuan (US$860) with coupons -- a nearly US$180 markdown compared to buying from China’s Apple Store.
Reports this week say Apple cut the price of iPhone XR and other models for Chinese distributors, just days after the company lowered its revenue outlook, pointing to weaker sales than expected in China.
But a customer service representative offered another reason, telling local media that it has to do with Apple’s legal fight over software patents with Qualcomm. Last month, the chip maker said it won a Chinese court order to block Apple from selling recent iPhone models like iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. Qualcomm later complained that Apple is still selling those models, violating the order.

We’ve reached out to and will update if we hear back.

Regardless of the reason, the unusually steep discounts didn’t go unnoticed.

In Friday afternoon, the keyword “1,000 yuan iPhone price cut” was the top trend on Weibo’s hot search.

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But many people said they aren’t convinced that this is the time to get a new iPhone.

“Stand firm everyone. Don’t buy, ” wrote one popular comment. “The price will fall again.”
“So you think the 1,000 yuan price cut means I can afford it now?” said another user. “Nope.”
Chinese consumers have been complaining about the ever-escalating prices of iPhones ever since Apple introduced its latest models four months ago. But despite the slowing demand, Apple still expects to announce a whopping US$84 billion in global revenue in the previous quarter.
In China, Apple remains the top foreign smartphone brand in the third quarter of 2018, according to research firm IDC -- beating rivals like Samsung and Nokia, despite offering a limited range of models each year.

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For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.