All iPhones Are Not Created Equal

iphone-6-china-ad-1.jpegI thought I would do this blog post to help those thinking that they want to buy an Apple iPhone or other Apple device here in China. Let’s learn from my mistake. Most of you know that not only does the Great Wall exist here in China, but also the “Great Firewall of China”. There is a big misunderstanding of the Great Firewall, most Americans or Western news outlets report on the side of China not allowing social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. These are not the only things that are blocked in China, the real truth is that a large majority of websites or content is blocked that originates outside China. This would include academic websites, news outlets, certain games or apps, and even some banking websites. Some of these sites or content may not be blocked, but the traffic to those websites are slowed down to a crawl.

Well, I knew this coming to China and I was a strong advocate for Google’s Android devices. I love the openness of Android devices and the competitive pricing, but I knew Google phones work poorly in China unless it’s a Chinese forked version of Android. Before I moved to China, I decided to switch back to iOS because I knew Apple devices worked pretty well in mainland China. I had bought an “international iPhone SE” in the USA and once I arrived here in Guangzhou China, I found out they sold me the wrong version. The Apple store in Raleigh North Carolina had mistakenly sold me the US model. The USA model of iPhones does not support China’s 3G, 4G, or LTE networks. I was only able to use Edge, which is very slow. Now to Apple’s credit, they called the Crabtree Valley Mall, where I purchased the iPhone and spoke with the salesclerk that sold me the phone. He admitted to remembering me telling him that I was moving to China and wanted to use this iPhone overseas and Apple was quick to accommodate me. The only problem was I was now in China. They told me they would be happy to replace my iPhone with a Chinese model, this is where it gets messy…

Before I made the switch with Apple, I emailed the representative and asked if the Chinese iPhone model was an international model. They assured me that the Chinese model was an international model and could do everything the USA phone could do. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

I could be wrong, but ever since I received this iPhone, it didn’t seem the same as my USA model. I noticed the battery wasn’t as strong and that some of my Apps don’t seem to work with the same reliability as my previous phone. My friends here in Guangzhou told me I was just imagining it. Well, during the time I’ve been in China, China has decided to limit Skype calling and has blocked access again to Whatsapp. At first, I didn’t think it was a major deal, because I still had FaceTime. Except the problem is I found out that the mainland Chinese iPhone has disabled some FaceTime features because they didn’t want to compete with the local Chinese apps and because they supported encrypted voice calling. You can video with FaceTime, but they have disabled the audio calling with FaceTime via a hardware switch on the logic boards here on every Apple device in China. After doing a little digging on the internet, I have found out that in other countries, Apple often disables certain features or even installs hardware switches in their devices to kowtow to the local governments or companies in that region.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple products. But increasingly Apple is beginning to get too friendly with local governments and monopolies. Their products may be great, but this is a major flaw in proprietary software and hardware. Apple’s number one priority is to its shareholders, they don’t really have the customer in mind. This disappointing news along with some other choices Apple has decided to enforce have made me begin to question my involvement with Apple and their platform in the future.

Anyway, my conclusion is to be careful about buying Apple devices abroad. They might not function similarly to their American counterparts. If you are in China and you want an Apple device that supports all the features Apple has to offer, I would suggest buying in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. At least for the moment, these places are selling fully featured Apple equipment. But who knows what might happen in the future. It might be better to buy in Korea or Japan. If you are interested in reading up more about how Apple is crippling their devices in mainland China or how they are compromising the utility of their products, you can read more about it with the links I provided below. Thank you for reading!

~ by branhow on February 16, 2018.

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