Apple chooses Hong Kong over mainland for iPhone 6 launch
Apple will roll out its new smartphones in nine markets, including Hong Kong, next week. But customers in mainland China will have to wait a week longer for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Unlocked phones from the Apple store will cost from HK$5,588 and HK$6,388 respectively in the city when they go on sale on September 19. The top priced handset – the 5.5-inch screen 128Gb iPhone 6 Plus, will retail at HK$8,088.
Some analysts were surprised to see mainland China excluded in the first round of sales, a stark contrast to the unprecedented simultaneous launch of the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S in Beijing and the United States a year ago.
Apple did not say why its biggest overseas market would have to wait an extra week. There were suggestions the delay was linked to the leaking on Chinese websites of details of the phones, which are made in mainland China.
Mobile phone traders in Sin Tat Plaza, Mong Kok, will offer as much as HK$13,088 for the most expensive model.
The new iPhones unveiled on Tuesday come in gold, silver and grey and have 16GB, 64GB and 128GB capacity.
Watch: What do experts say about Apple’s iPhone 6
Traders expect brisk business in the first week of sales as a result of the later mainland launch. The iPhones with 128GB capacity will see the biggest difference between the official and resale prices, with the gold ones expected to be most popular, says The First Digital shop.
The other eight markets chosen for the September 19 roll-out are the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore and Japan.
Apple singled out HKT’s CSL mobile unit, Hong Kong’s largest wireless network operator, SmarTone Telecommunications and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, which runs the Three mobile network in the city, as among the first batch of 4G operators ready to support the so-called high-quality voice call over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) service for its updated smartphones.
Stephen Chau Kam-kun, chief technology officer at SmarTone, confirmed that the operator and Hutchison Telecom “have been qualified by Apple to support VoLTE on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus”.
The city’s mobile operators previously offered circuit switch-based voice calls through existing 2G and 3G networks, but have been upgrading their networks with VoLTE as they deployed high-speed 4G networks.
At their official launch in California, Apple chief executive Tim Cook touted the new smartphones as “the biggest advancements in iPhone history”.
Apple also announced the initial rollout of its own Apple Pay contactless mobile payment system, which is only available in the US, and introduced the highly anticipated Apple Watch, which will be available early next year and be priced from US$349.
Apart from having more powerful processors, improved cameras and the iOS 8 mobile operating system upgrade, both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus support Apple Pay.
Sept 12 pre-orders in Hong Kong
Sept 16 reserve online for pick-up at retail stores in Hong Kong
Sept 19 on sale in Hong Kong
Sept 26 on sale on mainland