Wireless provider China Unicom will be offering customers a free iPhone 4S if they sign up with a three-year contract. The deal will be starting on January 13.
Apple has been pushing toward a bigger presence in China, opening stores in Hong Kong and Shanghai recently while also gearing toward launching their iPhone 4S there. On the same launch day, the sole provider of the iPhone, China Unicom, will be offering a deal that means locking in a user into a multi-year contract with the promise of a free iPhone 4S.
According to Bloomberg, contracts in China are offered at $45 (286 yuan) per month for a 32-gigabyte iPhone 4S on a three year contract and $60 (386 yuan) per month for 16-gigabytes on a two year contract. Prices nearly match that of most contracts found in the United States. In China, the iPhone costs roughly $800 (6,000 yuan). Price depends on location, the iPhone being pricier in mainland China.
China Unicom is offering a three-year contract to cover expenses from the offer, as the company lost money during their two-year deal with the iPhone 4 launch. "Subsidizing the iPhone at as little as 286 yuan a month 'would hit their near-term subsidy expense,' said Alen Lin," reports Bloomberg. China Unicom wishes to compete with China Mobile Communications as the top wireless carrier through 3G subscribers.
There are three major carriers in China, however China Unicom--based in Beijing--will be the only carrier offering the iPhone 4S. However, there are talks of China Telecom also selling the iPhone soon, 9to5 Mac reports. China Unicom is currently the second biggest carrier in the country, China Telecom being third. On top of the free iPhone, users can also receive a handset, which is to help lure in users who will use the smartphone mostly for video and gaming.
Counterfeit Apple products have been a problem in China in the past, a big proponent of why Apple wishes to strengthen their presence in China. In 2011, a number of fake Apple stores were discovered, which were shortly shut down by Chinese authorities, Digital Journal reported. Also, a very popular counterfeit version of the iPhone, the hiPhone, released their own "hiPhone 5" before Apple unveiled the 4S. The fake iPhone originally could be found on the Chinese online retailer Taobao.
January 13 will also mark the release of the iPhone 4S in other countries, including Bolivia and Kenya, reports The Huffington Post. The iPhone 4S was released in October 2011.