Buzz abounds over iPhone 5 release

Updated: 2011-09-16 10:39

By He Wei (China Daily)

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Vendors in shanghai already taking scores of pre-orders

Buzz abounds over iPhone 5 release
An advertising poster in front of an Apple store in Shanghai, which will be launched at the end of the month and become the fifth and largest outlet of the US company in China. [Niu Yixin / Xinhua]

No one knows what it will look like, Apple Inc won't talk about it but Chinese merchants are already feeling the pinch from consumer anticipation of it: the elusive iPhone 5.

Vendors at electronic markets in Shanghai, though hardly any would reveal their complete names, are claiming that die-hard fans of Apple devices are clamoring to get their hands on the new handheld gadget, some even paying as much as 8,888 yuan (1,019 euros) on a pre-order.

Though Apple has not said when it will release the iPhone 5, the buzz is reaching a fever pitch in several major Chinese cities. Shanghai Yuyu Communications Co Ltd is offering to take pre-orders for the new phone.

A man surnamed Qiu, who says he is in charge of taking pre-orders, says buyers need to leave their contact information and wait for the product to be released before they pay.

At the Jurun Digital Technology Co Ltd booth on the second floor of Cybermart Digital Square in downtown Shanghai, a salesperson says a buyer must first pay 500 yuan as a deposit before the company helps smuggle the device from the United States or Hong Kong.

"We don't know exactly when the iPhone 5 will come out, but rumors said it will be released around October in the United States. So very likely you will need to wait till next April for the mainland launch," said the Jurun salesperson.

He says buyers should be prepared to spend upwards of 10,000 yuan if they wish to purchase the iPhone 5 before the end of this year.

"It is just like the initial stage of the iPhone 4 debut, when tremendous demand drove up the prices."

Smuggling of Apple devices from overseas markets into China is nothing new and most of the vendors take to online stores to sell their wares.

At least 40 vendors on Taobao.com, a popular e-commerce site, are accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 5. Bidding prices range from 165 yuan to 9,999 yuan, but no deals have been made in the past month.

A seller under the avatar "wyq409202991" says he recently charged 8,888 yuan for the phone but has since stopped taking new orders because he doesn't know when the iPhone 5 will be released.

A Bloomberg report said that one of the major telecommunications operator in the United States will be selling the device in October.

It cited a separate report claiming that Foxconn Electronics Inc, the contracted manufacturer of many Apple gadgets, has ramped up production to about 150,000 units a day, which can indicate an upcoming release of the smartphone.

Shi Lei, a sales representative at an Apple retail store in Shanghai's Middle Huaihai Road, says the as-yet-unconfirmed phone might come in October. But the company has yet to release any concrete details, he adds.

"Currently, even the name, iPhone 5, is the creation of the media coverage."

Shi says avid users can keep an eye on Apple's official website and make free-of-charge pre-orders online once such services are introduced.

"People can choose to pick up from the three retail stores in Shanghai and the other two in Beijing," he said.

Wang Hailiang, a sales director of Shanghai Rui Zero, an authorized reseller of Apple's products, says Apple is likely to release an updated budget version of its current iPhone 4 handset as the company strives to break into the affordable smartphone market.