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iPhone 4 ‘Grey’ Market Prices Plummet In China

Poor reviews, reception problems and the suggestion that Apple is ignoring the Chinese market has led grey market sales of the iPhone 4 to nose-dive, with vendors slashing prices by up to 70 per cent to pique interest in the troubled handset.

State-run Chinese news broadcaster CCTV (opens in new tab) reports that the price of the smuggled, unlocked UK version of the handset has dropped by 40 per cent, down from 22,000 yuan (£2,100), to 13,000 yuan (£1,295), whilst prices for the US version have fallen from 20,000 yuan (£1,900) to only 6,000 yuan (£570) over the last month.

Retailers in Beijing’s Zhongguancun technology district blame the recent blitz in negative publicity on the fall in sales.

One of the biggest Apple vendors in Zhongguancun, Liu Hailing said (opens in new tab): “Countless customers have inquired about the phone, but the device's signal problem is always the very first question they ask. After that the price drops dramatically."

“Very few people buy it - even after we assure them that the signal is no longer a problem.”

Liu said that in the past, sales of Apple products in the grey market often eclipsed those in official Apple stores, but that “compared with earlier versions of iPhones, sales of the iPhone 4 are sluggish at best.” He added that he had only managed to sell 15 devices in the last month.

Grey market vendors across China are now wary of being left with expensive, unsellable stock on their hands.

"We would rather sell other phones, because at least customer won't complain after delivery," said Wang Huan, a vendor in Zhongguancun.