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Apple faces test with 10th anniversary iPhone

By Ma Si in Beijing (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-09-12 11:06

With Apple Inc set to unveil its 10th anniversary iPhone on Wednesday, experts wonder if the much anticipated product can help the US tech giant bolster its business in China.

The latest model is tipped to have a price tag upward of $1,000, compared with less than $800 for the top-end iPhone 7 Plus. That is unlikely to make a major dent in US sales, analysts say, but could have a greater impact in China, where the cost is roughly double the average monthly salary.

The success of the next iPhone is crucial for Apple, which has fallen to fifth in China, with a market share of 8 percent amid competition from Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp.

Greater China accounted for roughly 18 percent of iPhone sales in the quarter ended in July. Yet those sales have been declining steadily and are down 10 percent from a year earlier.

Huawei also surpassed Apple as the world's second-largest smartphone vendor for the first time this summer, data from consultancy Counterpoint Technology Market Research show.

Reports indicate a premium handset, iPhone X, will be unveiled on Wednesday, and is likely to include a high-quality screen and extra camera for 3D facial recognition.

"Chinese smartphone makers are unveiling similar products. Handsets just look increasingly the same. I don't know which one is better until I give them a try," said Zhang Wentao, an IT programmer in Shenzhen.

On Monday, Xiaomi unveiled a smartphone that also has a full-screen display. Huawei has rolled out an AI-powered chipset with image-recognition.

It will power Huawei's upcoming Mate 10 planned for October. Apple is said to be working on a similar chip.

"The annual smartphone battle is coming. But with the 10th anniversary iPhone, it will be far fiercer," said Xiang Ligang, CEO of the website Cctime.

"I'll wait for a drop in price; it's too expensive," said Angie Chen, 23, a project manager in Nanjing and iPhone 6 owner.

In China, one effect of Apple's costliest phone to date will be the rise of sales on credit.

Wang Yang, who runs a smartphone store in Beijing' said he expected more purchases online this time, as consumers pay in installments.

"We will continue to stock the cheaper models or we won't sell much," he said.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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