iPhone smuggling, and Apple device smuggling in general is a big problem in China. Apple doesn’t have a huge ‘official’ market share in the smartphone space in China, but still there are many who would like to own an iPhone – just can’t afford it if buying through official channels. So they resort to getting their iPhone fix from smugglers.
The main smuggling route seems to be Hong Kong to Shenzhen. Yes, Hong Kong is also part of China, but as a ‘special administrative region’ it has completely different regulations compared to what’s commonly referred to as ‘the mainland’. As a consequence of different tax levels, electronics are generally much cheaper in Hong Kong than in mainland China – smartphones in particular. So people try their best to exploit the system and benefit from the lower taxes in Hong Kong.
Take this guy, for example. He was at the Luohu border crossing between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and police saw him acting all weird, agitated, and ‘stiff’. So they decided to search the plastic bag he had on him. You should imagine their surprise when they didn’t find anything in the bag, but did catch him with no less than 66 iPhones strapped to his body. Yes, 66.
This happened on August 8. On that same day, customs intercepted three other iPhone smugglers. A mere 5 minutes after the aforementioned guy, they got another one who had ‘just’ 16 iPhones duct-taped to himself. The total number of iPhones seized from just four individuals? 222. And all this in half an hour, by the way.