Why buying an Apple iPhone outside mainland China is a bad idea

If you live or work in mainland China and you buy an Apple iPhone outside the country, it quite simply can’t be serviced in China. Instead you will need to travel to any country outside China (even Hong Kong will do) in order to get it repaired.

Don’t be fooled by Apples’ own ignorance of their own warrantee policies. Friendly, apologetic, seeming to promise a solution, Apple support in the U.S. will waste your time giving you addresses of local authorised repair centres.

At the moment my iPhone 6 Plus has a delightful hardware malfunction where the touch screen stops responding randomly. 

When I visited my local authorised repair centre in Ningbo last week as advised by Apple, the repair centre snorted, told me “no” and that I needed to visit an official Apple Store in the state capital Hangzhou. This information was, sadly, a ruse. And it took 3 hours on the phone with senior skilful assistance from a senior support person in the US to reach two conflicting conclusions:

* There was no reason the phone couldn’t be repaired in China.

* Authorised repair centres and Apple stores are allowed to refuse to repair devices under warrantee without giving a reason.

In the end Apple in the U.S failed to deliver on a promise to call the repair centre where I had been sitting for 3 hours and talk to them in Mandarin about the repair. Instead they simply fell back on an obscure article on their intranet that suggested the centres/stores didn’t have to repair my device and suggested I get on a plane with my phone and leave mainland Chinese soil. International Warrantee? Yes and No. But practically speaking “No”.

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