iPhone 4 to launch in China on Sept. 25

Apple is launching its iPhone 4 in China this Saturday, Sept. 25, in what is part of the company’s latest push to expand its presence in the Chinese market.

The release of the device, which was announced late Sunday, coincides with the opening of two new Apple Stores in China. The stores will be located in Beijing and Shanghai, where Apple already has two retail shops, and will bring to four the total number of Apple stores on the mainland.

China Unicom, the mobile carrier for the device, began accepting pre-orders for the phone on Friday. On the first day, China Unicom reported 50,000 users had signed up for an iPhone 4, a much higher amount than the initial 5,000 devices sold in the first few days after the the iPhone 3GS went on sale in China last year.

Apple currently holds 7.1 percent of the Chinese smartphone market according to Beijing-research firm Analysys International, ranking the company fifth, behind Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson.

The launch of the iPhone 4 comes hot on the heels of the Chinese launch of the iPad, which went on sale on Friday. Chinese consumers, however, have already been able to buy the iPhone 4 and the iPad through China’s gray market, where overseas versions of the devices have been imported by local vendors.

The price for the iPhone 4 without a contract is higher than its cost in the U.S. Apple has put the suggested retail price at 4,999 yuan ($744) for the 16GB model and 5,999 yuan ($893) for the 32GB model.

The iPhone 4 will go on sale at 8:00 a.m. in the company’s Apple Stores in China. China Unicom will also be selling the device in its retail stores starting Saturday.

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