Saturday, January 07, 2012

China Unicom to offer the iPhone 4S free with contracts as low as $45/mo.

China Unicom is the only of China's three wireless carriers to carry the iPhone, so one has to wonder why they would go out of their way to GIVE AWAY the iPhone 4S. The promotion, starting Jan. 13 when the iPhone 4S launches in the country, offers customers a free 32GB version if they sign up for a three-year plan with a monthly fee of $45 (286 yuan), while a two-year commitment can snag a customer a free 16GB model if they pay a monthly fee of $61 (386 yuan).

Comparing that to the plans offered in the U.S., with the AT&T 16GB model costing $199 for a two-year service plan that costs $45 just for the data plan (2GB) and texting ($20 for unlimited texting on AT&T is the only plan offered), and one has to shake one's head in envy.

At these rates, China Unicom isn't exactly awash in money. Alen Lin told Bloomberg that the 286 yuan rate used to be offered on a two-year contract, but China Unicom changed that to gain an extra year to make up the subsidy cost.

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China Unicom is the second largest carrier in China, following China Mobile. China Mobile has yet to offer the iPhone, but reports from October of 2011 claimed that despite this, around 10 million iPhone users already use the China Mobile network.

The third largest carrier in the country, China Telecom, is rumored to begin offering the iPhone to its over 100 million subscribers soon.

The iPhone 4S only recently received the necessary government certification, by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, late last month.

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