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Will I ever be able to get an iPhone 5s?

After 4 weeks working in South Korea I had hoped to return to China and buy an iPhone 5s. But so far I am failing miserably.

In mainland China you cannot simply go into an Apple Store and pick up an iPhone 5s. As a result of the mini riots after the iPhone 4s launch a couple of years ago there is a reservation system that goes live each day at 6am, this allows you to reserve one of the phones that they have in stock at your local Apple Store. Living in Shanghai, I now have a choice of 4 official Apple Stores because 3 days ago a new store opened in the IAPM mall. The process is this:

  • At 6am got to http://apple.com/cn/retail/iphone and click one the iPhone 5s reservation link.
  • You then must send and SMS containing the word ‘iPhone’ to a number and a special code will be sent back to you. You must enter this code, your phone number and fumble over a captcha before you can view the available stock at the different stores and I assume make a reservation (I have not got any further than this point).
  • The stock appears to be extremely limited. Prior to today I never managed to see any available stock, but today a couple of the stores had the 16GB Space Grey and one of the stores had a 64GB Gold but none had a 32GB of any colour (which is the model I would like). As of a few minutes ago all stores except the new one at the IAPM mall has sold out. 

    Who is buying all these phones?  In China the cost of these devices is higher that the average monthly salary so to be this does not make too much sense (I would not spend a month’s salary on a phone). However I guess Shanghai does contain a large percentage of the wealthier Chinese population. 

    So, what are my options? 

  • I could order online, but I don’t have a credit card here in China. Despite earning a western salary every application I have made for a credit card has been declined (even though I have been here almost 2 years now).

  • Pay a premium from one of the retailers who has a grey import from Hong Kong.
  • Try and buy one during my next trip to South Korea.
  • Take @nevin up on his offer to send me one from Hong Kong.
  • Just buy the next 32GB or 64GB model that is available regardless of colour.
  • Give up.
  • As I am scheduled to be in Shanghai for the next week, and I also get up at 6am everyday, I will probably continue to keep trying the silly reservation system. I will keep you informed of my progress!