A day before Apple is expected to release its new iPhone models (September 13), Chinese telecom companies are circulating posters of a new dual-SIM card feature, though no information on exactly which model would carry the function has been leaked, our sister site is also reporting. If true, it is unclear whether the feature will be limited to China.

China Unicom’s poster describes the dual-SIM card function as a long-awaited feature.

China Unicom’s poster for the countdown to the new iPhone launch. (Image Credit: China Unicom)

China Telecom confirms that the new iPhone it sells will allow a dual-SIM card function that supports 4G.

China Telecom’s poster confirming the availability of a dual-SIM iPhone to be released soon. (Image Credit: China Telecom)

China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK), as already reported by some tech media, released a poster where a digital figure with a CMHK label sits on a giant apple and asks “New apple species, two cards?”

China Mobile Hong Kong’s poster hinting a dual-SIM iPhone. (Image Credit: China Mobile Hong Kong)

The dual-SIM card feature is not just a popular localized function in China, but a by-product of competition and monopoly of the three national telecom service providers – China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile.

Though they also collaborate, the three companies have their own advantages based on geography, where China Mobile plays a dominant role in the North, while China Telecom and China Unicom are more powerful in the South. Not officially admitted, the services one provides when a user travels around China will create tacit regional barriers such as signal issues and package price differences.

A willingness to separate work from personal life is another reason that boosts dual-SIM’s demands in China. A culture that heavily relies on “guanxi (connection)” can draw potential partners close and will require friends-for-interest to keep frequent contact. However, the culture also values family and direct contacts more than acquaintances for a few deals.

Over 200 million smartphone users have purchased more than one telecom companies’ services, reports ifeng.com (in Chinese), soaring from 20 million in 2013. Among the current dual telecom service users, 20% carry two single-card phones, and the rest choose devices supporting the dual-SIM function. Apple cannot ignore this growing trend in China, though the company is famous for not changing designs or tech standards for specific local market preferences.

Earlier in February, Forbes quoted analysts’ comments which expected 2018 to be a tough year for the company. With a strong contribution from the $13 billion revenue made in the Greater China region, however, Apple’s fiscal performance for the second quarter beat expectations, despite the slowing down of Apple’s global smartphone sales.

Some from the Chinese tech industry also suspect the dual-SIM iPhone model’s launch might signal a subtle shift in Apple’s local strategy in China, which will weigh marketing and localization more than technology itself. This is also a concern regarding the increasing power inside Apple, which Angela Ahrendts, former CEO at luxury fashion brand Burberry and current Senior Vice President at Apple, holds.

Meanwhile, another poster from China Mobile Hong Kong suggests new Apple models will have new colors for users to choose from.

China Mobile Hong Kong’s poster hinting more iPhone colors available. Image Credit: (China Mobile Hong Kong)

Further according to information our sister site has acquired from insiders, the new iPhone models to be released will be 5.8-inch iPhone XS, 6.5-inch iPhone XS Plus, and 6.1-inch iPhone XC, all expected to be priced over RMB 5,800 ($844.0).

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email: runhuazhao@technode.com

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