The iPhone will officially come to China Unicom’s network on October 30th. We already knew the higher-ups at Apple locked down China Unicom as their iPhone partner in mainland China, and we were even given some initial pricing details, but this is the first time we’ve gotten specific launch information from the No. 2 Chinese wireless carrier. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS will both go on sale at the end of this month, and will be offered with a choice of a 2-year contract or contract-free.
The 2-year contract model might be business as usual for most of the developed world, but it’s a new way of doing things at China Unicom. The carrier is said to have specifically created their 24-month contract for iPhone users. It’s not clear how much these on-contract iPhones will run, but the no-contract prices are no joke. An iPhone 3G 8GB, sans contract will cost 4,999 CNY ($732). The iPhone 3GS 16GB will command slightly steeper 5,880 CNY ($861), while the range-topping iPhone 3GS 32GB will go for a hard-to-swallow 6,999 ($1,025).
Still, the arrival of the iPhone on China Unicom is a big step. Unfortunately, Apple had to cripple their China-bound iPhones to meet Chinese regulations. That means no WiFi for China Unicom iPhones. We’re sure some crafty Chinese iPhone user will manage to get WiFi functionality restored at some point, but it’s ridiculous that an asinine State censorship regulation is keeping WiFi off the iPhone in China.