Apple kicks off China iPhone 4 sales Saturday

Prices range from $US743 to $1,024 without a contract

Apple on Monday announced that it will launch the iPhone 4 in China on Saturday.

The new smartphone will be sold in Apple's four retail stores -- including the new Beijing and Shanghai locations opening that same day -- and in the storefronts of China Unicom, the country's second-largest 3G mobile carrier.

Apple has priced the iPhone 4 without a contract for $US743 for the 16GB model and $892 for the 32GB model.

Apple kicked off sales of the iPhone 4 in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. last June, then followed with another 18 markets in late July.

State-owned China Unicom began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4 last Friday. According to reports by several publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the company claimed it logged more then 50,000 orders on opening day.

China Unicom will sell the 16GB iPhone for $US874 and the 32GB model for $1,024 without a contract. Most Chinese consumers purchase smartphones without a long-term service contract.

Consumers who buy an iPhone 4 and commit to a two-year deal with China Unicom pay between $US267 and $713, depending on the iPhone 4 model and the monthly service fee.

In the U.S., an iPhone 4 costs $US199 to $299 with a two-year AT&T contract.

The iPhone 4 will be Apple's first smartphone to handle Wi-Fi connections in China from the time of its launch. China Unicom only began selling iPhone 3GS phones with Wi-Fi enabled in August, 10 months after it launched the older model.

Apple started selling the iPad in China last Friday, with prices running from 3988 yuan ($587) to 5588 yuan ($823).

Apple sells the iPad in its retail stores in China as well as at some authorized resellers. The company does not sell its products in China through an online store.

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