When Apple announced that it sold 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones during the first three days of availability, the sales tally didn’t look all that impressive compared to the 9 million iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C smartphones sold during the same period a year earlier. A closer examination of the details showed that neither of Apple’s new smartphones were available in China, which has become a huge market for the Cupertino, California-based company.
The reason for the holdup on Chinese sales was that Apple was awaiting approval from Chinese regulators to sell the handsets. In addition, Apple had to ensure that the operating system used on the smartphones, iOS 8, is free from any backdoor access that could grant U.S. spy agencies the ability to snoop in on the private data of regular Chinese citizens and government officials.
Apple was able to convince Chinese regulators that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus don’t pose a security threat, and as a result the smartphones will be available for sale in China starting on October 17. That means that Chinese wireless subscribers on China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom can purchase the devices — in total, Apple will have access to nearly 1.3 billion customers.
However, Chinese buyers will have to fork over a lot more money than U.S. buyers to get their hands on the new devices. The 16GB iPhone 6, 16GB iPhone 6 Plus, and the range-topping 128GB iPhone 6 Plus are already the most expensive smartphones on the market at $649, $749, and $949 respectively in the U.S. However, those same smartphones will set you back $860, $990, and $1,267 respectively in China.
“We are thrilled to bring iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to our customers in China on all three carriers at launch,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers will have access to high-speed mobile networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for an incredible experience.”
Apple has been going toe-to-toe with the Chinese government over matters relating to security and privacy as far back as July of this year. The company responded to claims that its Frequent Locations feature in iOS 7 could be compromised by hackers, stating, “Unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers. We are strongly committed to giving our customers clear and transparent notice, choice and control over their information, and we believe our products do this in a simple and elegant way.”
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