Prices for the basic iPhone 15 handset start at 5,999 yuan (US$823), while the top-of-the-line iPhone 15 Pro Max model costs 13,999 yuan. Pre-orders for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max models will commence on Thursday, while pre-orders for the basic iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models start on Friday.
At a regular press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning clarified that the country has not issued specific laws and regulations to ban the purchase of smartphones from Apple or other foreign vendors, ruling out restrictions for the general public.
Although the latest iPhone 15 hardware upgrades are not perceived as exceptional, Apple has continued to create a unique user experience in its ecosystem that makes it hard for users to switch to Android devices, according to Ivan Lam, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research.
“Apple will continue to be a clear winner in the over-US$800 smartphone segment,” Lam said.
The impact of Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro handset sales on Apple’s iPhone 15 release on the mainland is expected to be “manageable”, according to Linda Sui, senior director of wireless smartphone strategy at market research firm TechInsights.
“The strong user stickiness of Apple smartphones ensures a stable demand for replacement,” she said. TechInsights estimated global shipments of the iPhone 15 series to reach 72 million units from commercial launch to the end of this year, surpassing iPhone 14’s sales of 70 million in the same period in 2022.
On the iPhone use ban at government agencies, Sui expected a limited impact on Apple’s smartphone sales in mainland China. She pointed out that similar restrictions had been in place for years, which prompted most iPhone users in government to simply get another handset just for work.
China became the world’s largest iPhone market in the second quarter of this year, according to data from TechInsights. It accounted for 24 per cent of all global iPhone shipments, ahead of the 21 per cent in Apple’s US market.
While Apple has maintained a clear lead in the high-end segment of China’s smartphone market, it is expected to face bigger challenges from Huawei and other domestic smartphone brands that have been pushing more upgrades in their devices, according to Guo Tianxiang, a senior analyst at IDC, in a research note released on Wednesday.
For smartphones priced over US$600, Apple led this market segment with a 67 per cent share in the first half of the year, according to IDC data. Huawei ranked second, with a 15.6 per cent share.
Additional reporting by Ben Jiang