China Unicom was forced to stop taking iPhone 4 pre-orders after launch day saw 60,000 units sold and over 200,000 pre-orders. iPhone 4 inventory was wiped out shortly after Apple made the iPhone 4 available on September 25 through exclusive Chinese wireless carrier China Unicom and the Apple Store.
Shanghai and Beijing saw the opening of two new Apple retail stores on the same day. Over 1,000 people lined up outside the Beijing store up to two days in advance hoping to get their hands on an iPhone 4 before anyone else. The Chinese iPhone 4 launch came just three months after the device was launched in the US.
The iPhone 3GS was launched in China more than two years after its US release, and the device flopped. It took six weeks to sell only 100,000 units after release. The grey market in iPhones was partly to blame, as consumers could purchase the device in advance, smuggled in from other countries. Millions of grey market iPhones are currently in use across the country. The official iPhone 3GS was shipped in China without Wi-Fi functionality due to government rules. The iPhone 4 does not have this limitation.
China Unicom will offer free cases to iPhone 4 customers, similar to Apple's US arrangement that expires this month. Controversy over the external cellular antenna design dropping calls when touched in the wrong place caused a media circus. Apple sought to resolve the issue with consumers by offering a free Bumper case or cases from several third party manufacturers. Although the US free case program ends September 30, Apple will continue to offer free iPhone 4 Bumper cases to customers who contact AppleCare with reception problems.