China’s secret shops can upgrade your 16GB iPhone to 128GB

In China, a 16GB iPhone 6 can be upgraded to 128GB for $100 or less.

China’s legendary black markets have goods and services for every need, from organs to counterfeit designer handbags. For cashed-strapped Apple fans in this communist country, there’s also a thriving market around iPhone upgrades.

For as little as $100 U.S. dollars, the 16GB iPhone can get upgraded to 126GB. That’s a big deal to Chinese consumers, who have trouble affording the 16GB iPhone 6 at just over $700, let alone any models with more capacity.

The back-alley upgrades were reported in China Realtime, a blog of The Wall Street Journal.From online services to sidewalk shops, iPhone users can find repair vendors that will happily swap out memory chipsThis image shows how one repair service in China replaces the memory chip in an iPhone 6.

China is the world’s largest smartphone market and Apple is aggressively going after a slice of the pie there. During recent earnings reports, Apple reported a 112 percent increase in iPhone sales in China over the last year. Forty percent of all iPhone sales last quarter came from China.

Apple, as you can imagine, frowns upon such tampering. Industrious mobile repair technicians have found workarounds that let them clone contents and serial numbers onto the new chip. The swap can only be made after a user has registered their serial number with Apple.

Any unauthorized service on smartphones is fraught with risk and will obviously void warranties. China Realtime reported the upgrade renders some parts of Apple’s iCloud service unusable.

For now, the repairs can only be done on an iPhone 6 and not a 6 Plus, according to the website SlashGear, which featured a series of photos off Imgur from one shop showing how the chip is replaced.

Why the Chinese military is frightened of the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is on the Chinese military's watch list. Though not in a good way

The Apple Watch is expected to do big things in China — with even the high-end Apple Watch Edition selling out within its first hour of preorders in the country — but one place the company’s debut wearable device won’t take off is the Chinese army.

That’s according to a recently released memo in which Chinese military leaders argue that wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers are sure to compromise soldiers’ security.

“The moment a soldier puts on a device that can record high-definition audio and video, take photos, and process and transmit data, it’s very possible for him or her to be tracked or to reveal military secrets,” reads the message, which was published in China’s military mouthpiece The People’s Liberation Army Daily.

Apple’s not called out by name, but this wouldn’t be the first time China’s government has expressed reservations about how the company’s devices could be used for spying or eavesdropping.

In the past, Chinese media have accused Apple of using both iCloud and the Find My iPhone function to spy on its citizens, while Apple has been forced to move iCloud in China to state-run servers.

Although the ubiquity of wearable devices undoubtedly poses certain security risks, the Chinese army’s approach is far from typical of the the global military view of similar tech. In the United States, for instance, soldiers were issued Fitbit fitness trackers in 2013 as part of a trial program.

Maybe China will come around in time.

China finally overtakes U.S. in iPhone sales, Chinese revenue up 71%.

Hangzhou Opens Second Apple Store

Pundits have been predicting for several successive quarters that iPhone sales in China would outstrip those in the U.S., and Q2 2015 was when it finally happened, reports Reuters.

Apple […] sold more iPhones in China than the United States for the first time […] increasing its revenue in the country 71 percent to $16.8 billion, although that was helped by gift-buying for Chinese New Year.

Tim Cook said that the iPhone was responsible for the bulk of Apple’s revenue in China, though he did also note that Mac sales were “unbelievable,” up 31% year-on-year. As with other markets, the iPhone is usually the first Apple product people buy, but that brings them into the ecosystem and boosts sales of other products …

Cook reported that App Store revenue in Greater China doubled over the past 12 months, and that almost $5B had been paid to Chinese developers in total, more than half of it in the past year.

The Apple CEO also reiterated Apple’s plan to increase its retail presence in the country to 40 stores by mid-2016, noting that they were now more than halfway there, at 21 stores. Online Apple Store revenues have tripled year-on-year, and by next quarter the company will offer 2-day delivery to 365 cities in the country.

Cook said that adding Union Pay to payment methods for the Chinese App Store was helping Apple to significantly expand the ecosystem in the country, though it was recently reported that issues with Union Pay and bank negotiations was delaying the local launch of Apple Pay.

Users in China are going to have to wait for Apple Pay.

Tim Cook's going to have to keep on waiting for Apple Pay to show up in China. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Tim Cook has described making Apple Pay available in China “top of the list” in terms of his priorities. Sadly, it seems he’s going to have to wait a bit longer until that dream becomes a reality.

That’s because, despite beginning conversations with China’s eight major banks last year, Apple’s discussions have apparently not gone well — as Chinese banks have been reticent about letting the Cupertino company eat into their existing profits.

Apple had originally hoped that iOS 8.3 would support UnionPay — the only Chinese company which handles interbank payments in the country — but has “struggled” to get the necessary agreement, and had to drop its iOS 8.3 ambitions. According to sources who spoke with MarketWatch, no timetable is set for things to go ahead, either.

As the publication explains:

“In the United States, Apple Pay says it gets 0.15% of the 2% fee paid by merchants for each credit-card payment and half a penny for each debit card payment.

But Chinese banks argued those charges were too steep, an employee of a large bank said. Many large banks that are already part of mature point-of-sale networks do not want to lose such a large percentage of their profits in a deal with Apple Pay, he said.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has struggled to get one of its technologies into China. Prior to the iPhone 6’s release, the handset’s arrival in the country was delayed due to a lack of regularity approval. Apple has also found itself booted off the Chinese government’s list of approved state purchases.

Despite being named Chinese consumer’s favorite luxury brand, it seems that Apple still has a way to go to gets its innovations embraced as they are back home in the U.S.

Today’s MarketWatch report also notes that Apple has struggled in its efforts to get Apple Pay into the U.K. Originally scheduled for the first half of 2015, this is now reportedly delayed until the second half of the year as talks continue.

Apple Watch dream drove man to a life of crime.

Is the Apple Watch a good enough reason for breaking bad? Photo: HBO/Cult of Mac

Lust for Apple’s latest must-have gadget can make you do crazy things!

In what sounds like a cross between Breaking Bad and an Apple ad that I would totally watch, a story coming out China’s government-run Guangzhou Daily newspaper recounts the plight of a 21-year-old accused of orchestrating a crystal meth deal so as to be able to pay for an Apple Watch.

Called “Zeng,” the man reportedly hooked a friend up with a methamphetamine dealer, asking for enough money as his cut to pay for a 2,588 yuan Apple Watch Sport — which translates at $414, or roughly 19 percent more the $349 price tag associated with the device in the U.S.

Zeng was caught by police while trying to escape by train. He later said he needed the cash because he wanted the device to pair with his new iPhone 6, bought with borrowed money two months earlier. We shudder to think what depravity he might have done to get his hands on an Apple Watch Edition.

This isn’t the first time Apple has been associated with crime in China. Earlier this year, a Hong Kong man was arrested as he tried to smuggle 94 iPhones through a metal detector at Fultan Port in China. Strapping them to his arms, legs and torso, the man was spotted after his “weird walking posture, joint stiffness [and] muscle tension” captured the attention of security officers.

New Apple Watch spread targets Chinese fashionistas.

Photo:

Ahead of Apple’s March 9 event, the Apple Watch has popped up in another non-tech magazine, boasting some fashion shots of it being worn by a male model. The magazine is East Touch, a Hong Kong-based Cantonese magazine aimed at (predominantly female) readers between the ages of 20-30, and covering mainly celebrity, fashion and entertainment news stories.

This is just the latest fashion publication to feature a look at the Apple Watch, following shortly after the devices was profiled with a multipage spread in the March issue of Vogue.

Targeting a female audience with many of the pre-release materials for the Apple Watch is a smart idea, particularly since this is one audience even pro-Apple Watch fashion experts have questioned whether Apple can succeed with. For instance, Eric Wilson, fashion news director for InStyle Magazine, previously described the wearable as, “a very masculine watch.”

Hitting Chinese media is also crucial for Apple, which has made enormous inroads in the country as of late. Apple recently took the top spot for smartphone sales in the country for the first time ever, thanks to the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and also beat out the likes of Gucci and Chanel to be named China’s favorite luxury brand.

If the Apple Watch is going to be the kind of success Apple is hoping for, capitalizing on the interest of Chinese consumers is going to be vital.

Check out some of the other East Touch pictures below:

apple-watch-styling-editorial-by-east-touch-magazine-1

apple-watch-styling-editorial-by-east-touch-magazine-3

Apple’s new Chinese ad will make you cry whatever language you speak.

Photo: Apple

One of the most interesting things about Apple’s continued expansion into China is going to be watching how it tweaks its marketing to target a country Tim Cook has claimed will soon be Apple’s biggest market.

Ahead of Chinese New Year on February 19, Apple has debuted a new ad in China, updating it’s warmly-received U.S. ad “The Song” for a new audience. Both ads tell the story of a young woman who uses a combination of their Mac and GarageBand to record a duet featuring their grandmother’s voice from the past.

As with virtually every ad Apple has ever put out, the message is less about technology for its own sake, and more to do with how it can be used to enhance the life of individual users.

You can check out and compare both versions of the ad after the jump:

You can watch Apple’s Chinese ad by clicking here. The U.S. version, on the other hand is embedded below. (You can also view an intriguing making-of video here, filling you in on some of Apple’s thought process in creating the ad concept.)

Making location-appopriate versions of its current ad campaigns is nothing new for Apple. In the UK, for instance, Apple made the choice to replace Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake for its iPhone 6 commercials with the British double act of Chris O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade.

The Chinese ad comes at a triumphant team for Apple in terms of its Chinese expansion, however. Apple is currently in the process of opening a total of 25 new retail stores in China by the year 2016. To build buzz, Apple has also taken the step of commissioning giant murals for two of its flagship Apple Stores in China: showing off how Cupertino is trying to adapt its brand for a Chinese audience.

The effort seems to be paying off, as well. China was one of the major contributing factors to Apple’s recently-reported crazy, record-breaking growth quarter. Apple is now selling more iPhones in China than the U.S., too, while a new survey shows how Apple has shot to the top of luxury brand lists in the country.

Although a percentage of customers are no doubt drawn to Apple’s sunny Californian imagery, it’s definitely a smart idea for Apple to continue incorporating aspects of Chinese culture into its marketing: particularly as the country’s economy continues to swell.