Apple witnesses strong demand for iPhone 15 series in China, but challenges persist amid competition from Chinese rivals
Published: Sep 16, 2023 06:26 PM


Apple's new iPhone 15 series experienced a surge in advance orders when pre-sales started on Friday. However, buyers noted that obtaining the new phones is not as challenging this year compared to previous years.

Despite the perceived lack of innovation following the launch event of the iPhone 15 series and competition from Huawei's Mate 60 series, the Chinese market's demand for Apple's new iPhones remains strong, with deliveries for some popular models pushed to October or even November.

Due to a sudden surge in pre-sales, the Chinese version of the Apple website crashed within just 10 minutes after the start of iPhone 15 series pre-orders at 8 pm on Friday.

According to Chinese media reports, the first batch of iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models sold out within a minute of becoming available on Alibaba's e-commerce marketplace Tmall. The Tmall store is currently in the process of restocking, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max being the current best-selling model. Buyers can still place orders for the iPhone 15 series at the Tmall store, but delivery has been delayed by weeks or even months.

Tmall is one of Apple's sales channels in China, with others including, Meituan, Douyin, Pingduoduo, and Hema. According to Meituan, iPhone 15 orders exceeded 200 million yuan ($27.5 million) in the first half-hour of pre-sales.

Buyers' posts on Chinese social media platforms indicate that they can essentially purchase their desired models during this year's pre-sale, with the only difference being the wait time. Consumers who placed their orders earliest can pick up their phones at Apple's retail stores on September 22, the day the phones officially go on sale in stores. However, most posts indicate that delivery dates for all iPhone 15 Pro Max models have been pushed as late as November, with some Pro models experiencing delays of up to four weeks.

For a long time, analysts and investors have used shipment delays as an indicator of the popularity of a new iPhone series. "At least as far as pre-orders are concerned, the iPhone 15 series is popular among Chinese consumers. But it is hard to say whether Apple will be able to maintain the momentum of booming sales and reverse its three consecutive quarters of sales drops," an independent analyst surnamed Li told the Global Times on Saturday.

Apple's stock price closed down 0.45 percent on Friday, marking a 2.83 percent loss over the past five trading days.

There are mixed views on Chinese social media platforms regarding whether one should buy the new iPhone. Some individuals express their willingness to purchase it, citing the anticipated enhancement in user experience due to new chips. However, others argue that the limited changes in the new models render it less of an innovative product.

Compared to previous models, the iPhone 15 series features new chips, titanium shells, and includes a USB-C charging cable.

Li acknowledged Apple's strong presence in the Chinese market with extensive sales channels and a large user base. Nevertheless, he emphasized the substantial challenges ahead, including questions about the sustainability of its pricing strategy amid competition from Chinese rivals. Furthermore, Li pointed out that the public perception of iPhones as a high-quality product has evolved in recent times.

French regulators recently ordered Apple to halt sales of the iPhone 12, citing elevated electromagnetic radiation levels that exceed European Union exposure standards, as reported by AP.

Some netizens have also expressed reservations about the possibility of purchasing an iPhone manufactured in India. Apple is reportedly planning to sell the India-made iPhone 15 model in India and other regions. Earlier this year, industrial media reports revealed that iPhone casings produced by an Indian company had a 50 percent rejection rate.

Since late August, Huawei has launched three high-end smartphones, including the Mate 60 Pro, Mate 60, and Mate X5. Each pre-sale on Huawei Mall witnessed rapid sell-outs within seconds, and consumers were spotted queuing at offline Huawei stores in certain cities.

Stronger-than-expected sales prompted Huawei to increase its second-half shipment target for the Mate 60 series by 20 percent and revise its 2023 forecast for overall new smartphone shipments to a minimum of 40 million units, according to Chinese media reports.

A buyer of the iPhone 15 Pro, surnamed Xie, told the Global Times on Saturday that she decided to purchase the iPhone 15 Pro because she was unable to obtain a Huawei Mate 60.

Global Times