iPhone 4S returns to Chinese Apple Store web site, units can be expected by March 2nd

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Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012, 06:18
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re over in the far east and hankering for an iPhone 4S, you’ll be able to snag one online without getting into a fistfght in line.

Per China Daily, the handset has returned to the company’s Chinese online store following a brief stoppage of sales due to overwhelming demand that led to scalpers and violence, though wait times for orders can range from overnight to weeks.

The report confirms that the iPhone 4S can now be purchased through the online Apple Store in mainland China, bringing an end to the nearly month-long moratorium on sales that was instituted almost immediately following the smartphone’s Chinese launch.

Apple’s Chinese online store has been taking orders since Wednesday, though customers may not be receiving the actual device for some time as current estimates are quoting a ship date of “February.”

“If you pay today, you might get the items tomorrow, and no later than March 2,” said an Apple sales representative.

In re-opening online orders, Apple has instituted strict sales policies that dissuade scalpers from using bots to gobble up online inventory to be sold on the grey market at inflated prices.

A lottery system was recently introduced in Hong Kong, where lower taxes and limited supply led to a flood of scalpers who repeatedly clashed with customers and each other for a chance to buy the device. The price for a 16 GB iPhone 4S in Hong Kong is HK$5,088 (US$660), more than US$100 cheaper than the 4,988 yuan (US$790) mainland China customers pay for the same handset.

iPhone buyers in Hong Kong must place their online order with a valid government-issued ID between 9am and 12pm, and those who are randomly selected will receive an email by 9pm with instructions on picking up the device at a specific time the following day. Customers not selected are forced to repeat the procedure on a different day.

Apple’s new rules limit purchases to two devices per person and it remains to be seen whether the newly instituted rules will reduce the number of units sold through unofficial channels, however some stores are seeing a change.

“Since we began accepting online orders yesterday, not as many people have been hawking iPhones nearby as before,” said an employee at the Apple Store in Xidan, Beijing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been involved in the Chinese purchase process for an iPhone 4S, please let us know in the comments.

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