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January 13, 2012

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All-nighters, scalpers mark iPhone mania

HOW do you get a new iPhone 4S that goes on sale today?

People have had to choose from among three ways: Stay up outdoors for a whole winter night, pay an additional 150 yuan (US$23.80) to hire a scalper or shop online, which will require waiting one or two weeks for the iPhone to arrive if you are lucky enough to procure one.

The demand shows the popularity of Apple's long-awaited iPhone 4S, even though its Chinese mainland debut is three months later than the US kick-off in October.

Before 7pm yesterday, at least 200 people had gathered in a line in front of the Apple Store in Lujiazui of the Pudong New Area. They had registered their identity card numbers and were allowed to buy two of the new iPhones.

"I will take the white models, probably one 16-gigabyte and one 32-gigabyte model," said a 40-year-old man at head of the line who declined to be identified.

He came to the store about 9am, he said.

The new iPhone 4S, with new features including Apple's dual-core chip and web-based voice assistant Siri, was to start sales in the three Shanghai Apple Stores in Lujiazui, Huaihai Road M. and Nanjing Road E.

People can also buy the new phone with a contract in the outlets of China Unicom, Apple's sole carrier partner in the domestic market.

Apple is selling the white and black iPhone 4S with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB of memory. Prices start at 4,988 yuan for 16 GB.

Later yesterday evening, more people came to the Pudong store for the line, facing a whole night waiting for the store to open in the morning.

Many of those in line came well-prepared, with warm coats, winter hats and gloves, hot coffee, food and chairs. About 7:30pm, some parents sent packages of food and clothes to the young guys in the line, shaking heads and whispering "too crazy to understand."

In online communities like and, scalpers posted offers to buy the phones for 120 to 150 yuan. To take the offer, people had to bring their identity cards to the scalpers.

Apple's authorized retailers, including Suning and Media Market, were also selling the new iPhone 4S. But most people prefer to buy them in Apple Stores, which have more inventory, industry insiders said.

People are also allowed to order the new models on the websites of China Unicom, Apple China and But many people, including many scalpers, are expected to rush and buy all the online inventory within minutes.


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