Apple Offering Heavy Discounts on iPhones in China

Up to $318 Off Select Models
iPhone U.S. China Trade War Credit: Mavas_bd / Shutterstock
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Apple is heavily discounting the iPhone in China as it looks to regain market share from rebounding Chinese brand Huawei; Apple is offering as much as 2,300 yuan (approximately $318 USD) off the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Apple’s latest round of discounts is much larger than those it offered back in February. The discounts run from May 20 to May 28.

On Apple’s official store on Alibaba Group’s Tmall site, the Cupertino company is offering a flagship 256 GB iPhone 15 Pro Max for 7,949 yuan (~$1,199), compared to the 9,999 yuan price tag the device carried when it was released in September. An entry-level 128GB iPhone 15 model is available for the discounted price of 4,599 yuan (~$636), down from its previous price of 5,999 yuan.

Apple has struggled in China for several years. When Apple was making devices with smaller screens (before the iPhone 5s), Chinese consumers were buying larger-screened models, popularly known as phablets. Huawei dominated the Chinese market at the time, at least until Apple debuted the iPhone 6 in 2014, which spurred an intense head-to-head battle between the two firms.

Apple took the top spot when the United States government placed sanctions on Huawei, as the country stopped the exporting of advanced chips from the U.S., including the 5G radio chips Huawei used in its smartphones. Premium smartphones are tough to sell without 5G connectivity, meaning Huawei’s sales plunged like a rock, providing a great boost to Apple’s iPhone sales.

Unfortunately for Apple, Huawei was able to find a 5G chip supplier, allowing it to launch a new premium 5G-powered smartphone and compete with Apple and other companies once again in the premium smartphone market. Following Huawei’s return, Chinese iPhone sales suffered greatly.

According to Reuters, Apple’s big discount strategy seems to be working.

Apple’s shipments in China increased by 12% in March, according to Reuters’ calculations based on data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). This marks a significant improvement from the first two months of 2024, when the company experienced a 37% slump in sales.

Apple has depended on discounts to move mid-level iPhone 15 models in China, as it has faced strong competition from Huawei’s high-end Pura 70 phone lineup, which is said to be at least partly responsible for the most recent drop in Chinese iPhone sales. Apple’s February discounts were believed to be a response to Chinese consumers’ burgeoning interest in Huawei’s Mate 60 series, which launched last August.

Apple’s Chinese sales dropped precipitously, falling 13% to $20.8 billion in the December quarter, well short of the $23.5 billion analysts had predicted.

While analysts are also forecasting a gloomy 2024 outlook for Apple, the Cupertino company’s February promotions are believed to have helped reverse its sales slowdown in China. Reuters reports that Apple’s shipments in the country increased by 12% during March, which was a significant increase from the first two months of 2024, when the company saw a 37% slump in sales.

While Apple is slashing prices in China, Buyers in the United States should not hold their breath waiting for similar discounts in their country. The best U.S. consumers can expect from Apple is a slight increase in trade-in values for old iPhone models.

Until June 3, the following trade-in values will be available when purchasing a new iPhone:

  • iPhone 14 Pro Max: Up to $650 (was $630)
  • iPhone 14 Pro: Up to $530 (was $520)
  • iPhone 14 Plus: Up to $430 (was $420)
  • iPhone 14: Up to $380 (was $370)
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: Up to $460 (was $450)
  • iPhone 13 Pro: Up to $380 (was $370)
  • iPhone 13: Up to $320 (was $300)
  • iPhone 13 mini: Up to $300 (was $270)
  • iPhone SE (3rd generation): Up to $170 (was $160)
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