Advance orders for Apple’s new iPhone 11 series soared over the weekend after pre-orders kicked off on Friday, data from e-commerce sites Tmall and showed.

Why it matters: The absence of 5G compatibility did little to damp the appeal of Apple’s newest handset to Chinese consumers.

  • Chinese internet users have been critical of Apple for its lack of a 5G device since the California-based electronics maker presented the iPhone 11 series on September 10.
  • China’s three major carriers were granted commercial licenses for the next-generation wireless technology in June, but there has been no publicized launch date for 5G network services.
  • A United States export ban on Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, which is also a major 5G gear supplier for Chinese carriers, may delay their 5G network rollouts.

Details: Day one pre-sales for the iPhone 11 series—which include the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max—on Chinese e-commerce site Tmall surged 335% compared with those for the iPhone XR models launched a year ago, according to Chinese media outlet Yicai.

  • Sales for the new devices on the site reached RMB 100 million (around $14.1 million) in less than a minute, according to Tmall.
  • The day one pre-sales for the iPhone 11 series also jumped 480% on, another Chinese e-commerce site, said the report.
  • Pricing for the iPhone 11 series starts at RMB 5,499, cheaper than the launch price for the XR models by RMB 1,000.

Context: Apple’s rivals in China such as Huawei, Xiaomi, and ZTE have already launched their 5G smartphones for the country’s early adopters.

  • Huawei and Xiaomi both have one 5G smartphone model on sale in the Chinese market, and Huawei plans to launch another 5G device in the country this year.
  • ZTE was first to the market with the early August launch of China’s first 5G smartphone.
  • Greater China, which includes mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, will account for 34.0% of global 5G smartphone shipments in 2023, according to research firm Canalys.

Wei Sheng

Writing about semiconductors and telecommunications.

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