Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2009


If you’ve been to China recently, you might have noticed the conspicuous consumption of that oh-so-Western lust bauble, the iPhone. Even though no phone network in China sells it, the Apple handset has been a roaring success after about a million of them were imported on the gray market.

Spotting an opportunity about two years too late, number-two Chinese carrier Unicom has bought up a boatload direct from Apple to sell as official, state-approved products. Only problem is, the state doesn’t actually approve all that much.

Consequently, the “proper” iPhones will all have their Wi-Fi chips ripped out to stop any naughty internet surfing taking place. Instead, Chinese citizens will have to show their hands through the (almost certainly) heavily monitored Unicom network. Boo.