A report of advertisements in a China Unicom outlet in southern China is raising questions about whether the carrier may be preparing to deliver pre-jailbroken new iPhone 4s and iPad 3Gs. A writer on the Chinese blog Weiphone
spotted the poster in one of the sales centers for China Unicom - the only official iPhone/iPad carrier in mainland China - in Dongguan. Sources are translating some of the "Support Services" offered on the posters as "free SIM-trimming, jailbreak, installation of more than 10 hot apps." Prices for the devices - due to be released in China in upcoming weeks - are significantly but not outrageously higher than what iPhones go for in Hong Kong, so the added services may be a way to lure customers who would otherwise get phones on the grey market.
My Chinese is pretty basic, and I definitely don't know much slang or colloquial tech terms. However, looking at my dictionary the word 越狱 on the bottom of the poster looks like it is made up of the two Chinese characters 越 (yue
), meaning to get over or jump over and 狱 (yu
), meaning jail. (If anybody out there knows Chinese and I'm getting this really wrong, please let me know.) On this basis, I'd say the reports are at least valid. Whether or not you will really
be able walk into a China Unicom outlet and get yourself a JB'd, activated iPhone 4 or iPad with a trimmed-down SIM, though, remains to be seen.
The 32GB model with no contract is advertised at 6,980 yuan (about $1025 US). This is compared to $5888 HK or about $756 US: still a brutal markup. The iPad 3Gs start at 5,680 yuan or $835. However, the legit iPhones will be able to use China's WAPI standard for wireless internet, and officially activated devices can use China Unicom's "Wo
" 3G network. So it could be that the clever businesspeople in Dongguan - if not China Unicom executives - are choosing to offer "unauthorized" services that will make these expensive devices attractive to people in a country where the average monthly salary for professionals
is only about 2,000 yuan.
While this would be awesome
if true, the absence of a jailbreak for iOS 4.0.2/3.3.2 makes the claims of free JBs hard to believe, not to mention the heat China Unicom could catch from Apple. However, again this could be store owners acting on their own, or at least with a blind eye from management; and as Cupertino's only legit representative in the Middle Kingdom, China Unicom might not be all that afraid of Apple. And the technical hurdles are minimal: any shop owner in southern China wouldn't have trouble finding a small army of modders to cut SIMs and downgrade iPhones and iPads before sale.
Source: Cult of Mac