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You’d think that the Chinese would be more excited about the iPhone 4 eventually coming to their country than they would about Wi-Fi finally being added to last year’s model, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
AppleInsider is reporting that Apple’s Chinese carrier, China Unicom, has announced that the iPhone 3GS will finally be sold there with Wi-Fi intact starting on Monday, according to company spokesman Wen Baoqiu. The carrier, based in Beijing, will offer an 8GB iPhone 3GS with Wi-Fi -- while inexplicably still offering the more desirable 16GB and 32GB models sans Wi-Fi.
As you may recall, China temporarily banned the use of the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard, just prior to the launch of the iPhone in that country back in October, 2009. China’s logic behind the move was simply to push their own WAPI standard instead, which appears to have not been terribly successful. The Wi-Fi ban has since been relieved, but by that point manufacturing of the China-specific model without Wi-Fi had already been underway.
The initial iPhone launch in China wasn’t exactly a repeat of its success most everywhere else, with a mere 5,000 handsets sold in the first four days. Aside from the lack of Wi-Fi, China Unicom had an uphill battle against a fleet of grey market devices offering full-featured iPhones imported from abroad. By the end of last year, the company’s sales had reached 100,000 units and counting.
Chinese regulators finally approved the Wi-Fi iPhone last month, although it currently only applies to the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. With no date currently announced for iPhone 4 availability in China, potential customers there have to sit and wait -- or head over to Hong Kong, where the iPhone 4 was released on July 30.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter