The mobile techies over at ChinaByte have done a thorough analysis of the new iPhone 3GS for China Unicom – Model A1325 (comparison versus a grey-market iPhone 3GS) and have highlighted what’s new with the “for China” iPhone. As expected, there are far more similarities than differences. The primary change is that the new China model is fully localized and comes pre-loaded with ten (10) special apps for China consumers. The China iPhone also features the Wo Portal with China Unicom’s value-added services, such as music downloads, mobile TV, e-books, news, etc.
Consumers who buy the official China iPhone won’t have to pay a back of the shop “unlocking free” (common for grey-market purchases) or have to worry about “bricking” their iPhone when installing Apple’s software upgrades (another major issue for grey-market iPhone owners). There is no hacking necessary on the official iPhone and it comes with a real warranty!
Are there any hardware differences? Yes … There is the issue of “no WiFi.” The official iPhone has its WiFi chip removed, and no simple software hack can enable this function. For power WiFi users, this may be a reason to shop the grey-market. For many others, 3G speeds will be sufficient.
iPhone developers might be interested to know that China iPhone owners will have access to Apple’s China App Store for app and game downloads and to iTunes for synching/updates. iPhone owners will need to set up an iTunes account if they want to buy music and videos via iTunes.
China iPhone owners will not immediately find the Apple App Store icon on their China Unicom iPhone. Yes it’s there, but new iPhone owners will need to change a setting in their iPhone to find Apple’s China App Store.
The issue of whose apps/services would be prominently featured on iPhone was likely the subject of some “back and forth” discussion during iPhone deal negotiations. China Unicom won that round. The Wo Portal is front and center. Finding Apple’s App Store requires one easy setting change. I suspect the word (how to access the App Store) will be rapidly disseminated on iPhone forums in China. Here is the explanation in Mandarin from the ChinaByte post
For a complete review, please see the extensive ChinaByte comparison analysis: