Many online retailers from China have offered discounts on Apple Inc's iPhone 11, Reuters reported on Thursday. The drops in the prices came because of the uncertain year ahead for the smartphone sector, as the global spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 has dampened the demands while the Chinese rivals rush for the 5G models.

The online of Suning, which is a popular electronics vendor, offer the 64GB version of iPhone 11 for 4,999 yuan giving away a discount of 500 yuan as per the price listed on the Apple China Website.

Apple smartphones sold for less price in China

A man looks at the screen of his mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China on July 30, 2017.
Reuters

The 64GB version of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, meanwhile, sells for 7499 yuan ($1,061.38), a discount of 1600 yuan from the price on Apple's China website. Other e-commerce vendors, including JD.com, Gome, and Dangdang, as well as several authorised Apple resellers on Tmall, the popular site run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, offer similar price cuts.

For a time, Apple granted little leeway for its Chinese third-party sellers to lower prices. But in early 2019, several Chinese e-commerce cites dropped prices on the number of iPhone models. The cuts arrived as the company faced weak demand in China, in part because of competition from domestic rivals.

Apple's Tim Cook later said the cuts played a role in helping the company recover sales in China. The latest round of price cuts comes as Apple prepares for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. In February, as the virus peaked in China, Cook warned investors that the company would not meet its revenue guidance for the coming quarter amid the disruption of both the Chinese supply chain and consumer demand there.

Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a branch of the Chinese government, revealed that Apple shipped fewer than 500,000 phones in China that month. Mo Jia, who tracks the global smartphone industry at research firm Canalys, said that although some smartphone brands have seen sales in China recover as the virus subsides in the country, Apple is not yet one of them.

He attributes the delayed uptake to Chinese brands' swift rollout of 5G devices, as consumers who are ready to purchase new phones want models compatible with the country's upgraded telecommunications networks. "Apple only offers 4G phones and they are expensive compared to their counterparts," Jia said.

(With agency inputs)