Apple to launch iPhone 4 in China on Saturday

Apple on Saturday will launch the iPhone 4 in China and expand its presence in the world's biggest online and mobile market by opening two new stores in Beijing and Shanghai, the company said Monday.

The iPhone 4 will be available in Apple stores in the two cities, as well as at China Unicom retail outlets for buyers who sign a two-year contract with the operator, Apple said in a statement.

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, took nearly 50,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 last Friday, the opening day for such reservations, a company spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

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

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

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.

Apple's latest version of its iPhone has been launched around the world to much fanfare and is already available in China's flourishing grey market for Apple products.

The trendy smartphone was released in June in France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States, and has since gone on sale elsewhere.

The iPhone 4 sells for 199 dollars in the United States for the 16 gigabyte model and 299 dollars for the 32GB model - significantly cheaper than the official version in China.

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