And so it has begun. While enthusiasm for Apple’s latest handset is supposedly somewhat down in China, that didn’t stop smugglers from trying to sneak at least 400 new iPhone 7s across the border on the first day that they were available.
According to People’s Daily, Shenzhen customs officers caught over 60 people trying to smuggle Apple’s newest smartphone across the border from Hong Kong on Friday, just after the phone was released to the public. Electronic devices, and iPhones especially, have always fetched a higher price in the mainland than in Hong Kong. To limit smuggling, authorities have imposed a strict 1 iPhone per person limit on those crossing the border. Extra iPhones incur a 15% tax.
By 1 p.m. on Friday, the first smuggler of the season had been seized, carrying five smartphones on him. Later in the afternoon, a group of 10 smugglers were caught with 44 iPhone 7s strapped around their waist and ankles.
In total, Shenzhen customs estimates the value of the seized phones on Day 1 at 3 million yuan. They will be put up for public auction with the proceeds going into the state treasury.
Despite the reported lack of enthusiasm, online pre-orders for Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus quickly sold out in China and Hong Kong after going on sale on September 9th. By September 16th, droves of customers lined up at Apple stores across the country to receive their new phones. With the first batch of stock instantly being bought up, sales are now limited to pre-orders.
Which provides a golden opportunity for smugglers and scalpers. But, of course, Hong Kong/Shenzhen customs officers have a wealth of experience when it comes to cracking down on iPhone smugglers.
Looks like smugglers are going to have to think of more creative places to hide the iPhones than their socks.
[Images via People’s Daily]