China to get Wi-Fi crippled iPhone soon

Unicom not sharing revenue with Apple, but may be listening to censor

Chinese flag

China, the world's biggest mobile phone market, is finally getting Apple's iPhone later this year, after number-two carrier Unicom announced a deal on Friday.

The plans to sell the smartphone are unusual in that Unicom says it simply bought a quantity of iPhones from Apple and will not enter the usual revenue-sharing deal with the US firm.

Old model too

Instead, it will offer them at market-standard subsidised rates that are likely to see the 3GS model phone sell for around £200 with a new contract. Unicom says it will also sell the 2G model at the same time.

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Pricing aside, the more significant aspect of the Chinese iPhone is that its Wi-Fi abilities will be removed, as had been previously rumoured.

Censor's hand?

The thinking is that state censorship plays some role in this - monitoring traffic over phone networks is simpler than keeping tabs on what's being accessed through sometimes-open wireless hot spots.

Unicom's move in crippling the device is being seen as a risk, considering that a million grey-market iPhones with Wi-Fi intact are already unlocked and in the hands of Chinese users.

Via Reuters