Costing nearly US$200 more than in Hong Kong, iPhone X fails to sell out in China

iPhone X pre-orders were made available over Apple’s mainland China platform from 3.01pm on Friday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 October, 2017, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 October, 2017, 8:41pm

iPhone X, the most expensive smartphone Apple has ever released, failed to sell out in mainland China, hours after its 3.01pm launch, even as units offered through a coordinated launch in Hong Kong appeared to be all snapped up.

Buyers who used Apple’s mainland site were told delivery won’t be fulfilled until December, even as the device will begin shipping from November 3.

“To book an iPhone X is easy but I have to wait for five weeks [early December] to get the phone,” said Eric Li, a Shenzhen-based analyst who ordered an iPhone X online at the official Apple website for 9,688 yuan (US$1,456.66).

In contrast, the iPhone X appeared to sell out in Hong Kong in less than half an hour after its mid-afternoon launch Friday.

Chinese consumers will still pay for an iPhone with a difference

Li said he attempted to buy Apple’s latest smartphone via the Hong Kong website, but eventually gave up and completed the transaction on the mainland site, a possible indication that demand across the border was lower.

“Actually the muted situation is not what I expected. Maybe iPhone X is too expensive for most people. It is about 1,300 yuan cheaper in Hong Kong than the mainland, maybe most buyers want to buy iPhone X in Hong Kong.”

However, in Huaqiangbei, a major electronics-manufacturing hub in a suburb of Shenzhen, retail electronics shops were abuzz with iPhone touts.

“I would like to pay 20,000 yuan for iPhone X if you can get the device on the first shipping day of November 3,” said Wang Hongjin, a salesman in one of the area’s main malls on Friday morning. “Shortages of the new phone are widely expected in the coming months, but iPhone X will not be so costly if buyers are OK to receive it in late November.”

Gone in 12 minutes: iPhone X flies off virtual shelves as orders halted in a flash on first day

Apple will make 3 million units of iPhone X available in 57 sales markets on November 3, according to estimates by KGI Securities, without breaking down specific numbers for each market.

Other experts said mainland consumers were likely to be keen on Apple’s latest offering, but were delaying purchasing in the hope of buying through Apple’s Hong Kong platform.

The iPhone X: evolution of the iPhone but not of the smartphone

“No one has seen the new model and customers are hesitant to buy the most expensive phone.

But this does not mean that demand is weak,” said Mo Jia, a Shanghai-based analyst with Canalys. “The price gap between the mainland and Hong Kong is big [about US$200] and some potential buyers want to buy in Hong Kong.”

Apple has given different delivery times, ranging from three to six weeks for those who successfully place their pre-order via the mainland website by 4:30pm.

“It is also a sign that Apple is confident to improve the production capacity for iPhone X over time,” he added.

Those who order in the coming weeks may expect a much longer delivery time.

Jin Di, research manager of IDC China, said Apple’s latest iPhone, featuring facial ID, has what it takes to be a hit among fans in China, but whether its sales are successful will depend on production capacity.

“Compared with the recently released iPhone 8, which is just an upgrade from the previous version, the iPhone X is a truly revolutionary product not just about its looks but also about the technologies inside,” said Jin.