The iPhone 4S's first birthday is coming right up, a China Radio report points out, but many of China's iPhone 4S handsets may spend their birthdays back on the shelf in secondhand markets. Although the phones are far from outdated, the announcement of the iPhone 5 (and the subsequent arrival of gray-market iPhone 5s) has led to a flood of users trading in their iPhone 4Ses. The price for a new 4S has gone down, of course, but the secondhand market is apparently flooded and less-than-mint condition iPhone 4Ses are selling for as litte as a few hundred RMB (around $100).
One Taobao seller who spoke with China Radio told a reporter that he was taking in lots of used iPhone 4S handsets. 4S owners in Beijing could even choose to have someone come to their home or place of work to pick up the phone, the vendor said. And, of course, since anything Apple is popular, it seems that vendors aren't having much trouble finding new homes for these pawned 4S handsets. I guess everyone wins, at least until you look at how much it costs to buy an iPhone in China, then sell it at a much lower price than you paid so you can buy another expensive iPhone less than a year later.
If you're in the market for a 4S, used ones are now going for about 2600 RMB ($412). That might sound like a lot but considering that buying a new iPhone 4S in China from Apple right now will run you at least 4488 RMB ($712), it's not a bad deal at all. Especially since an iPhone 4S can't possibly be over a year old. Most of the available 4Ses are Hong Kong phones, gray market imports that eager Apple fans bought before the phone's eventual release in mainland China and are now selling to pay for the new iPhone 5. Some of them even come with a half-year warranties.
Buyer beware, though: some sellers are also spending a few hundred dollars to put some polish into their used stock and then selling the phones as officially refurbished units, which can go for higher prices.