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China Unicom Offering Free iPhone 4S On Contract

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it would be launching the iPhone 4S in 22 new countries on January 13, with China being the highest-profile debut in the group.

Bloomberg now reports that China Unicom, Apple's existing iPhone carrier partner in the country, has released details on pricing that include a free iPhone 4S for users subscribing to contracts coming in at as little as $45 per month.
China United Network Communications Group (CHTZ), the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, will give users an Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 4S if they sign multiyear service contracts costing as little as 286 yuan ($45) a month.

The promotion starting Jan. 13 offers a 32-gigabyte model with a three-year plan, while a commitment to two years for a monthly fee of 386 yuan allows users to get the 16-gigabyte model, the company known as China Unicom said in a statement on its website yesterday.
Beyond the contract price levels required for a free iPhone 4S, China Unicom offers a complex series of service plans and term lengths that carry varying levels of subsidy for the iPhone 4S. Contracts are available in terms ranging from 1-3 years and begin at 66 yuan ($10) per month, with longer and more expensive contracts obviously carrying higher subsidies and thus lower device costs for consumers.

Full details on the China Unicom's contract options are available in Chinese in the company's press release.

Bloomberg notes that China Unicom previously offered similar pricing for the iPhone 4, but ended the practice due to the high subsidies cutting too much into the carrier's profitability. The carrier is continuing its efforts to rein in subsidies as it works to boost its smartphone customer base, but seems willing to make an exception for the iPhone 4S in hopes of winning away customers from other carriers.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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37 months ago
That's weird. Interesting move for the carrier though as Apple still gets every penny for the phone.

Makes you wonder why one of our carriers in the US doesn't have the balls to do this, until you realize that here, the iPhone sells itself. I guess it's literally a different world over there with tech. Maybe they need marketing strategies beyond Apple's brand name and whatnot to sell these phones over Nokia's and the like. Even further, maybe the Chinese don't care as much about status symbols and what's popular.

More importantly, who else read it was China Unicorn? Should I be ashamed?

Rating: 7 Votes
37 months ago

I wanna move back to China! Everything is so cheap there!


Including life.
Rating: 5 Votes
37 months ago
so by general macrumors standard the iphone 4s is now a cheap POS since it's free on contract?
Rating: 3 Votes
37 months ago

If you read the detail on that page, you will notice, you have to pre-pay more than $900 into your account for that two year contracts.


It's a lot up front. But considering I'm paying $75/month for minutes and data ($1800 over two years) PLUS $200 for the phone. They're paying $1080 for two year contract AND the phone included.

Still sounds like a pretty good deal to me.:D
Rating: 2 Votes
37 months ago

Let the whining commence...

Commence?!? It has never stopped since day one on this forum.

;)
Rating: 2 Votes
37 months ago

so by general macrumors standard the iphone 4s is now a cheap POS since it's free on contract?


It's been available free on contract in the UK since it was released. Different deals for different markets.
Rating: 2 Votes
37 months ago

Nope. Living in the U.S is the much better bargain. Just ask any member of Falun Gong.


Thanks for the lesson in patriotism.

Obviously, I was referring to the deal on the iPhone, and not commenting on life in China.

Not having devoted sufficient study to the issue of life in China (not since my visit there in 1988), I don't feel qualified to comment. Obviously your knowledge is more extensive than mine, but this is discussion for PRSI.
Rating: 1 Votes
37 months ago
The iPhone is also free for many European customers.

Only American customers get vastly ripped off by cell phone companies and pay the highest prices in the world, except for some exotic places.

Competition clearly does not work in the US with cell phone companies.

The only explanation is that the cell phone companies formed an illegal cartel, do price fixing, and have found means and methods to camouflage this illegal practice from the authorities, and/or using loop holes.

(And, by the way, how would you really proof price fixing, except if the fixers were really dumb?)

In the US, you pay more for adding a text plan than a European pays for the whole phone plan.

Cell phone rates should be 50% lower to compare with what the rest of the world is paying.
Rating: 1 Votes
37 months ago

Competition works in most sectors, just not this particular one.


You quoted me before I did refining edits.

Of course, competition works actually better in the US for many products and services than in other places.

This is what puzzles me about telecommunications. In this sector it doesn't work.

The US is cursed with companies like Comcast: high prices, no service (got famous for the Comcast man falling asleep waiting for phone support through his own company)

US cable TV is outrageously expensive if you consider the fact that most channels are ad funded. (no problem paying for good programming like HBO).

Cell phones: bad, bad, bad - as discussed.

Internet providers: again the US has the highest rates. Here the situation is even worse than with cell phones. US customers pay up to 400% of what customers in other countries pay for high speed service. And, as we speak of "high speed": 10 Mbs is already called "blazing fast", while in Europe most people enjoy 50 Mbs for 25% of the US fees.

Like in Chicago in the 1930's, where crime gangs had their territories, internet providers have theirs in the 2010's. This almost non-existent competition makes prices screaming high.

This high price - low performance problem with US telecommunications is one serious risk for the US to compete with other countries. The flow of information is so important that I can't believe how passive the government is to unchain the telecommunications market. (on the contrary: the internet providers would love to charge even higher for "premium speeds", and slow down private individuals).

Telecommunications: this mess has to be fixed in this decade, or it'll weigh down the US economy.
Rating: 1 Votes
37 months ago

If you are an app developer with an English only app, port it now. Sales of the ported version will dwarf your English language sales....


I have never seen an iPhone here that was not jailbroken and obtaining pirated apps. The Chinese have little moral obligation against pirating - you should see the amount of copied DVDs, games, and software here.
Rating: 1 Votes

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