China Unicom will be introducing the low-priced version of iPhone 4 this week, as its latest attempt to boost its 3G subscriber base.
Unicom said the 8GB version of iPhone 4 will hit the market on Friday. The operator is selling the phone for prices starting from 186 yuan ($29.40) a month with a three-year contract up to 586 yuan ($92.50) a month with a one-year contract. Without contracts, the phone costs $4999 yuan ($789).
The operator declined to reveal when it would start offering iPhone 4S, but local media reports that Unicom will introduce the new model into the Chinese market by the end of 2011.
Unicom, the sole supplier of Apple’s popular smartphones in China, launched iPhone 4 last September and was swamped by customers seeking the phone when it went on sale the first day.
It is expected the introduction of the cheaper iPhone 4 8GB will help Unicom to compete against rivals China Mobile and China Telecom in the race to add 3G subscribers.
China Unicom has earlier indicated a target of adding 25 million 3G users in 2011. The company signed 16.17 million new 3G users in the first three quarters, bringing its total 3G base to 30.23 million as of September 30. Yet it is 8.13 million short of the company’s target. Smaller rival China Telecom added 16.14 million 3G users and China Mobile signed up 22.46 million new 3G subscribers in the first three quarters.