China Unicom to offer amnesty to jailbroken grey market iPhone owners

China Unicom will start selling iPhones in China already next week. And it has already made them available for pre-order since the beginning of October.

But, at prices ranging from $730 for Wi-Fi less iPhone 3g 8GB, to $1000+ for an iPhone 3Gs 32GB, unsubsidized, it does not seem that China Unicom was happy with the initial demand.

The main reason? Imports of jail broken grey market iPhones to China. Where, according to some estimates, there already are 1.5 million of them. Bought at a prices, ranging from $430 for iPhone 3G 8GB to $730 for iPhone 3Gs. For a  $300 mark-up, quite a few potential China Unicom customers are happy to overlook that they are not carrying the original.

So what now? Well, if you can’t beat them, join them, they say. And that’s exactly what China Unicom plans to do.

iPhone China Unicom

One of it’s subsidiaries – Shanghai Unicom – already said that they have an amnesty for the grey market iPhone users, who will be able to sign a contract and use all the services available  to “legal” China Unicom customers. The amnesty to grey market imports will be extended to all China Unicom customers later.

Looks like a pretty smart move on behalf of Chinese carrier. They, after all, are not in the business of selling mobile phones. They are a communications service provider.

And, if the opportunity of not worrying about jailbroken software updates, hassle free iTunes sync, and access to the official app store gains them a few hundred thousand new lucrative 3G service customers, why the heck should they care were the phones are coming from?

Via: China Business Times

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Name

    There is a lot of misinformation going around by these “news” sites that keeps getting repeated. First, I live in Beijing and have an officially unlocked iPhone (not jailbroken) with WiFi that I purchased through Apple's online store (one of the only places in the world to buy an unlocked phone directly from Apple, but it needs to be shipped to a HK address). I signed up for a China Unicom 3G account (not contract) got a sim card and plugged it in. No problems. Nothing to do with any ridiculous claims about having to sign up for an “amnesty program”. Its just a standard 3G pay by the month option from China Unicom that costs me $27 per month for 60 MB of data which is plenty for my needs as I'm usually on WiFi.

    Next, the prices stated for grey market phones in China are absolutely false. A brand new grey market 3GS iphone will set you back over $1,000 USD in the local stores. There is no way to obtain one at the prices quoted in this “article” as NO ONE sells them that inexpensively at their original source. The Hong Kong prices directly from Apple for unlocked iPhones are $579 USD for the basic 3G, and top of the line 3GS is $811 USD.

  • Name

    There is a lot of misinformation going around by these “news” sites that keeps getting repeated. First, I live in Beijing and have an officially unlocked iPhone (not jailbroken) with WiFi that I purchased through Apple's online store (one of the only places in the world to buy an unlocked phone directly from Apple, but it needs to be shipped to a HK address). I signed up for a China Unicom 3G account (not contract) got a sim card and plugged it in. No problems. Nothing to do with any ridiculous claims about having to sign up for an “amnesty program”. Its just a standard 3G pay by the month option from China Unicom that costs me $27 per month for 60 MB of data which is plenty for my needs as I'm usually on WiFi.

    Next, the prices stated for grey market phones in China are absolutely false. A brand new grey market 3GS iphone will set you back over $1,000 USD in the local stores. There is no way to obtain one at the prices quoted in this “article” as NO ONE sells them that inexpensively at their original source. The Hong Kong prices directly from Apple for unlocked iPhones are $579 USD for the basic 3G, and top of the line 3GS is $811 USD.