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What iPhone ban? The iPhone 15 is already a hit in China

Published Sep 20th, 2023 12:09PM EDT
Regular iPhone 15 models with Dynamic Island
Image: Apple Inc.

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In the week preceding the iPhone 15 launch, reports from China detailed the government’s purported iPhone ban in the country. At the same time, there was increased talk about the resurgence of Huawei. The local smartphone vendor had just launched the Mate 60 Pro flagship, rocking a homegrown processor.

Some pointed out that a ban in China would hardly impact overall iPhone sales in the region. It would only impact those working for the government. But paired with Huawei’s renewed determination to compete at the highest level after the US ban from a few years ago, the news did spook investors. Apple shares tanked briefly with the first reports of an iPhone ban for government employees.

More than a week after the iPhone 15 launch, the new handsets have been selling incredibly well, mirroring the worldwide demand for iPhones.

China has denied an iPhone ban since the first reports came out. But it’s likely that even with a ban at governmental levels, iPhone 15 preorders would have been just as strong in the region.

Apple no longer shares sale figures for iPhone preorders. Even if it did, it wouldn’t single out China, even though it’s one of Apple’s most important markets. However, the South China Morning Post has details about the state of iPhone 15 preorders.

Within the first 10 minutes of iPhone 15 preorders, Apple’s China website crashed. The handsets were also available from third-party retailers, including Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com, Meituan, and Ele.me.

Apple's September 2023 iPhone lineup: iPhone SE 3, iPhone 13, iPhone 14, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro.
Apple’s September 2023 iPhone lineup: iPhone SE 3, iPhone 13, iPhone 14, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro. Image source: Apple Inc.

iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max sold out in one minute on T-Mall. The store revealed they had to replenish the stock nine times in under 30 minutes. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, which sold out in the US and other international markets last Friday within an hour, was the quickest to sell out.

JD.com buyers placed over 3 million preorders on the Apple store on the platforms as of Monday, September 18th. The iPhone 15 was the most popular handset on the platform on Tuesday, in the 4,000 and 6,000 yuan price category. The iPhone 14 and 13 were second and third in that top.

As a reminder, Apple did not raise the $799 price tag for the base iPhone 15 model. Instead, the iPhone 15 international prices decreased in Europe compared to the iPhone 14 series.

Meituan is a food delivery giant that partnered with more than 5,000 authorized Apple product retailers in China. It reportedly sold 200 million yuan worth of iPhone 15 units in the first 30 minutes. That’s $27.42 million worth of iPhone 15 units.

With an iPhone average selling price approaching $1,000 ($988), that figure amounts to over 27,000 iPhone 15 units sold in the first 30 minutes. That’s just speculation from this longtime iPhone user, as there’s no telling what the split between the four models was.

Ele.me, an Alibaba platform, partnered with 3,000 Apple retailers. The reseller promised to deliver the new iPhones to customers within 30 minutes once they can be shipped on September 22nd. It’s unclear how many iPhone 15 units might have been preordered this way, however.

While we won’t have iPhone 15 sales figures for quite a while, the examples above indicate that new iPhones continue to sell well in China, despite the government’s ambiguous messaging regarding a potential ban and despite Huawei’s best efforts to top the iPhone.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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