Apple launches iPhone 4 in China

Apple on Saturday launched the latest version of its iPhone in China and boosted its presence in the world's biggest Internet and mobile market by opening another two stores in Beijing and Shanghai.

Dozens of people queued up at the new store in the capital for the first official iPhone 4, some waiting for more than 24 hours, even though the smartphone has been available on the grey market for months.

At the front of the queue was Yu Zhonghui, who began lining up at 5:00 am on Friday.

"I thought I was going to be bored standing in line but I'm having a great time," Yu said, according to the Global Times.

"It's like a party."

Han Ziwen, a bookstore owner who had queued for 60 hours to get his hands on the iPad, also lined up for an iPhone 4.

"The iPad and iPhone 4 will certainly have a great impact on the publishing industry," Han was quoted by the China Daily as saying.

"My bookstore will either be destroyed or have to find a new way forward. I have to witness the process."

The new Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai bring the company's total to four in China - two in each city. It plans to have 25 shops in the country by the end of next year.

The iPhone 4 - something of a status symbol in China - is available in Apple stores, as well as at China Unicom retail outlets for buyers who sign a two-year contract with the operator, according to Apple.

The 16-gigabyte version of the smartphone, which will have wireless Internet capability, will cost 4,999 yuan (744 dollars) at Apple stores with the 32-gigabyte selling for 5,999 yuan, the California manufacturer said.

China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile phone operator, reportedly took nearly 50,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 on September 17, the opening day for such reservations.

With the two-year contract, the 16-gigabyte will sell for 5,880 yuan while the 32-gigabyte version will cost 6,999 yuan, the China Daily said.

The iPhone 4 made its debut in China just a week after Apple officially launched the iPad in the country, with some customers queuing up for several days to ensure they got their hands on the tablet computer.

Both products have been available for several months on China's grey market, which has been booming thanks to great demand for Apple goods.

The earlier version of the iPhone only officially went on sale in China last October - more than two years after its US launch.

Consumers have had a shorter wait for the iPhone 4 and iPad - the latest version of the smartphone was released in June in France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States.

The iPad made its US debut in April.

The price of the iPhone 4 in the grey market has more than halved to 5,500 yuan since Apple announced the official price, the China Daily said, citing vendors in a Beijing electronics market.

China has at least 420 million web users and is also the world's largest mobile market with more than 800 million subscribers as of the end of June, according to official data.