Feeds

Free iPhone 4S deal tempts Chinese fanbois

Two or three-year contract, zero dollars down

High performance access to file storage

Updated China Unicom is offering a no-money-up-front iPhone 4S to Chinese customers in a deal that is sure to make iPhone users worldwide feel a wee bit underappreciated and overcharged.

If your Chinese reading skills are superior to those of your Reg reporter, you can find details on China Unicom's website. If not, you can attempt to parse Google Translate's effort.

According to Bloomberg's interpretation, the deal – which begins on January 13, the iPhone 4S's debut day in the Middle Kingdom – is sweet for users but a gamble for China Unicom, the country's second-largest wireless service provider and the only one to currently offer the iPhone, although talks between Apple and rival China Mobile have been rumored.

For 286 yuan per month ($45.30), China Unicom will provide a 32GB iPhone 4S for users who sign up for a three-year contract. For 386 yuan per month ($61.15), a user can get a 16GB iPhone 4S on a two-year contract.

Here in the US, AT&T's least-expensive plan for the 32GB iPhone 4S costs $39.99 per month for 450 "Anytime Minutes" for users who want to call both mobile and landline phones – but you'll pay $299 for the phone (plus tax on the full iPhone 4S value), and incur a $36 set-up fee. One assumes that the China Unicom base contract is voice-only, as well, but The Reg was not immediately able to confirm that supposition.

If you'd like to use your AT&T iPhone 4S for data and messaging, the lowest-cost option is an additional $15 for 200MB of data, plus $20 for unlimited messaging, or $0.20 per message. Although our lack of Chinese-language skills prevent us from reading China Unicom's pricing table, their plans appear to ratchet up, as well.

Sucking up all of the iPhone's subsidization costs is a risk to China Unicom, as is the 286-yuan plan. Perhaps the wireless service provider has been seduced by the time-honored temptation of "Sure, we're losing money – but we'll make it up in volume."

More likely, they're taking a longer-term view, hoping that once subscribers move to their service they'll stay for years to come – years in which China Unicom could increase tariffs on both basic and add-on services. ®

Update

A kind Reg reader has supplied us with a translation of the meat of China Unicom's pricing table. Unfortunately, we can't verify this translation, but here it is:

China Unicom iPhone 4S pricing table

Prepayment with a monthly payback? Interesting...

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.