For Apple, the crunch will come later this month after unveiling the iPhone 12 5G model.
The highly-anticipated launch at the tech giant’s Cupertino campus in California came as Chinese rivals such as Huawei and Xiaomi had already rolled out sophisticated 5G smartphones.
In the next few weeks, Huawei plans to launch the rival Mate 40 Pro as it plans to take another bite out of Apple sales in the world’s second-largest economy.
Online reaction has been mixed. The price tag was a major talking point on China’s Twitter-inspired Weibo social media app.
“How is it this expensive even with no power charger or earbuds?,” one Chinese Apple fan said after more than six billion viewed the tag “iPhone12,” turning it into the number one topic on Weibo.
So, what is the new line up from the American smartphone icon?
- The iPhone 12 with a 6.1-inch (2.54-centimeter) display will sell for US$799 while the ‘Mini’ version with a 5.4-inch screen will be slightly cheaper at $699.
- A ‘Pro’ version with three cameras and a new 3-D ‘lidar’ sensor has a basic price of $999.
- The largest ‘Pro Max’ will cost between $1,099 and $1,399.
- In China, the iPhone 12 will cost 5,499 yuan ($815.37) for a ‘Mini’ version and 11,899 yuan for a top of the range model.
- A HomePod Mini smart speaker was also unveiled and will cost $99.
The technology research and analytical group, Canalys, has predicted that iPhone shipments to China in the fourth quarter are likely to rise by 14% compared to the same period last year.
Moreover, that is in stark contrast to an original forecast of a 1% decline.
“In China now, 5G is not a premium feature, it’s a must-have feature,” Nicole Peng, who tracks China’s smartphone sector at Canalys, said as reported by the Reuters news agency.
Still, Apple faces a major challenge from Huawei, which is saddled with sanctions in the US because of national security concerns.
The Chinese flagship 5G and smartphone company is planning to sell its Honor brand for 25 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) to Digital China as it focuses on the high-end market.
“If Honor is independent of Huawei, its purchase of components will no longer be subject to the US ban on Huawei. This will help Honor’s smartphone business and the suppliers,” Kuo Ming-chi, an analyst at TF International Securities, wrote in a research note last week.
It will also place Huawei in pole position to take a larger slice of Apple’s business in China.