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The Apple iPhone 14 during an event at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022. Apple is once again seeing high demand for its latest handsets in China, where it makes up nearly half of the premium smartphone segment. Photo: Bloomberg

Apple’s iPhone 14 sees surging pre-orders in China as enthusiastic consumers crash e-commerce services

  • Buyers complained about stalled payments on Apple’s website and mini programs amid strong demand despite complaints about a lack of innovation
  • High iPhone 14 pre-orders, which have pushed delivery times out by up to seven weeks, buck the trend of weak consumer demand amid China’s slowing economy
Apple’s new iPhone 14 series smartphones unveiled last Wednesday have proven so hot in China that a deluge of pre-orders crashed the tech giant’s online services and pushed shipments out five to seven weeks beyond the September 16 launch date for the Pro and Pro Max, the two most premium models.
By Saturday, 24 hours after pre-orders opened, Chinese consumers had placed more than 2 million orders for iPhone 14 devices through the official Apple Store on, continuing the strong demand that JD saw last year for pre-orders of the iPhone 13. Prices for the latest devices are largely in line with last year’s models, with a mark-up of a few hundred yuan for some configurations.

A significant portion of the pre-orders were for the two Pro models. The iPhone 14 Pro had more than 1 million pre-orders on JD, while the Pro Max had nearly 800,000. Both models are equipped with Apple’s latest A16 bionic chip and a 48-megapixel camera, promising a range of new features such as sharper photos and longer battery life.

Apple’s iPhone 14 attracts strong China demand despite Covid-19 restrictions

Continued enthusiasm for Apple’s latest handsets bucks the trend of weakening consumer sentiment in China amid a slowing economy. It suggests the Cupertino, California-based firm is cementing its advantage in the high-end segment as local rivals in the world’s largest smartphone market struggle to catch up.

In Beijing’s upscale Sanlitun area, a 30-year-old white-collar worker surnamed Li shopping at the Apple Store on Monday said she did not think the 14 Pro Max was very innovative. Still, she considered it an upgrade over her current iPhone 12 and said the new Mate 50 from domestic rival Huawei was expensive for what it offered.

Comments online last week also complained about a lack of innovation for the iPhone 14, and some drew comparisons to the Mate 50. However, Huawei was forced to ship its latest flagship device without 5G as a result of US sanctions.

Kuo Ming-chi, an analyst at TF Securities known for his accurate assessments of Apple, said on Twitter that the two Pro models accounted for about 85 per cent of all iPhone 14 pre-orders in China. The 14 Plus had the lowest allocation with less than 5 per cent.

The higher order allocation of premium models this year reflects Apple’s changing product segmentation strategy of reserving major updates for its high-end models, Kuo said.


iPhone 13 release sparks buying frenzy in China

iPhone 13 release sparks buying frenzy in China

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus run on the same A15 chip as last year, which some analysts have attributed to supply issues and a means of controlling costs. Despite the highest inflation in decades, Apple did not change the iPhone’s starting price this year in China and the US, its two most important markets.

Grumblings over innovation aside, Chinese consumers placed pre-orders in droves and complained on microblogging platform Weibo when transactions failed on Apple’s website. Some users griped that the mini programs they used to order from authorised Apple resellers crashed under the weight of high traffic.
On-demand delivery giant Meituan also sought to cash in on the high demand by partnering with more than 1,100 authorised Apple vendors in more than 200 cities. Meituan guarantees delivery in less than 30 minutes at no extra charge.
As China has become one of Apple’s top markets, Apple has also become increasingly important to the local smartphone market. Nearly half of second-quarter premium smartphone sales in the country were for iPhones, according to Counterpoint. Dongguan-based Vivo came in a distant second with 13 per cent of the market, while Huawei fell to third place with 11 per cent.

Apple’s iPhone sales make up half of China’s high-end smartphone market

Apple has been able to grow its share of China’s smartphone market as consumers have held onto their handsets longer, leading to a prolonged replacement cycle that has contributed to declining sales.

While Android is the world’s most used operating system, Apple has held onto 57 per cent of the premium smartphone segment globally, according to Counterpoint, which defines the segment as devices with a wholesale price of US$400 or above.

Meanwhile, Shenzhen-based Huawei, once China’s dominant smartphone maker, announced the Mate 50 two days ahead of the iPhone 14 event. However, analysts say the lack of 5G could hamper consumer interest.