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iPhone 4S selling for big bucks on Chinese gray market

The gray market in China is amazing. No sooner does a new Apple product appear on the scene in the US and Europe than buyers snap up a lot of the devices, and they magically appear on the gray market in China. Sure enough, the iPhone 4S is already selling in China -- unofficially.

Computerworld is reporting that the iPhone 4S is now selling in Beijing at prices around US$2,000. One vendor, who was selling the devices in Beijing's Zhongguancun electronics markets, was selling the 32 GB model for 13,000 yuan (about $2,043 as of this writing) and the 16 GB edition for about $1,729. The vendor noted that the phones came from Australia and the US -- the former could explain why TUAW blogger Chris Rawson still doesn't have his iPhone 4S in hand.

The phones are sold without a contract and are unlocked. Another vendor apparently had the 16 GB version available for "only" $1,391, and expected that the prices would fall by about $100 in the next week.

Why the tendency to pay through the nose for gray market Apple products in China? Apple usually doesn't deliver the newest products in China for months, so consumers jump at any chance to get the latest and greatest. As we reported before, almost half of the iPad 2 sales in China have come from the gray market.