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Bigger, faster, cheaper: Apple aims to expand China market with iPhone 13

Zhu Shenshen
Apple Inc will start sales of the iPhone 13 on Friday in China. With the release, Apple is expected to increase its presence in the Chinese smartphone market.
Zhu Shenshen

Apple Inc will begin receiving orders on Friday for new iPhones, starting from 5,199 yuan (US$807) for the iPhone Mini, and begin shipping next week in China.

Though it lacks any obvious new add-ons, the lower-than-expected price and enhanced screen and storage capacity will still help Apple grab a bigger piece of the market share in China, said some analysts, while consumers hold various attitudes toward the new iPhones.

The iPhones are "normal" without surprises and attractive points, said Mantou Master, a Weibo opinion leader with 140,000 fans. As an iPhone 12 Pro Max user, he won't buy new iPhone 13 this year even he bought all new iPhones annually in the past years.

Li Jun, a fan of both Apple and photography, is holding a wait-and-see attitude. He is interested in the upgraded photography and video functions but is not sure whether he likes to edit photos on a smartphone. He used to edit them on a Mac computer.

During an online event this morning, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 and new iPad mini, equipped with faster chips and sharper cameras without an increase in the phone's price. It also announced upgrades of the screen, with a higher refresh rate and storage up to 1 terabyte in high-end models.

The iPhone 13 models will start from 5,199 yuan for the iPhone 13 Mini to 12,999 yuan for the iPhone 13 Pro Max with 1 TB of storage. Every Chinese customer is allowed to buy two iPhones at a time. Trade-in offers are available for up to 5,000 yuan, according to Apple China's website.

The price is several hundred yuan lower than iPhone 12 models on average and the top model with 1 TB storage space is lower than the expected price of about 15,000 yuan.

Mobile carriers are offering packages and gifts for iPhone 13 buyers.

China Unicom will offer discount up to 3,800 yuan if buyers are willing to bundle its packages. Both China Mobile and China Unicom offers free data traffic and chargers for new iPhone buyers.

The models seem attractive to older iPhone users like iPhone X and earlier models, industry insiders said.

The price, screen, and storage capacity are three major advantages to woo Chinese customers, according to researcher International Data Corp, or IDC.

Chinese Android brands are in need of a leader. (Huawei fell from the crown with a US tech ban.) This condition creates space for Apple and opportunities for iPhone 13, said IDC analyst Wang Xi.

"The rapid shift toward large screens has accelerated in the last 18 months, as people increasingly communicate, watch video content and play games on their smartphones," researcher Canalys said in a statement.

In the first half of 2021, Apple's iPhone sales reached 98 million units, a 19 percent growth from last year, according to Canalys.

However, Apple's shipments are still facing component supply challenges due to COVID-19, according to another researcher, TrendForce.

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