Apple's Wi-Fi-less iPhone hits China’s mobile market

Friday saw the formal launch of the Apple iPhone in the world's biggest mobile phone market - China. Priced on a somewhat higher side, the Wi-Fi-less China-specific iPhone, on the China Unicom carrier, will be available at a starting cost of 4,999 yuan, or $730 for the 8GB model.

The price of the high-end iPhone 3GS for China will be 6,999 yuan or $1,024, without a service contract - that's how most Chinese buy their phones; as against the device's $800 cost in Hong Kong.

In its report on the China debut of the iPhone, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said that the high price of the handset might be a "buzz-killer." The report said: "When wrapped together with a service plan, as is generally done in the US, the phone will cost Chinese subscribers at least $3,120 over two years, compared with the roughly $2,600 cost for the same period for customers in the US."

Other than the cost of the handset, another drawback in the Unicom's iPhone for China is its lack of Wi-Fi capability which, in a country that has an exceedingly high demand for Wi-Fi devices, might dent the device's sale in the country.

The lack of Wi-fi capability resulted from the Chinese earlier-this-year ban on the feature; and by the time the ban was relaxed, Unicom's iPhone had already hit the production stage!