Apple’s exclusive partner for the iPhone 4 in China is China Unicom, the country’s second biggest carrier. This partnership has been going on for a long time and there are no signs that it will cease to exist anytime soon.
However, a great number of iPhones that are in use in China haven’t been bought from Apple or China Unicom, but on the grey market. These are devices ‘unofficially’ imported from other countries.
Since the iPhone 4 needs a microSIM card to function as a phone, up until now the only two options for those with grey market iPhone 4s were: either become a China Unicom customer, or use a tool to cut your normal size SIM into a microSIM. Those who bought an iPhone from China Unicom but wanted to use it on another network have had to resort to the same practice of cutting the SIM card.
Well, China Mobile intends to come to the rescue of these categories of people and offer an easy alternative: a microSIM of their own. Right now this is only available from the carrier’s Shanghai branch for its Gotone users. But its Beijing branch is expected to offer the new diminutive card as well, probably after reviewing sales numbers from Shanghai.
The only downside, if you have an iPhone that you want to use on China Mobile’s network, is that you’re confined to 2G data speeds, since China Mobile’s 3G is of the unique TD-SCDMA flavor, which isn’t compatible with the iPhone. And for iPhone users, this may be a huge downside.
It’s also worth mentioning that, for some reason, the microSIM that China Mobile offers can not be used in the iPad.
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