In China, some Apple users opt for iPhone makeover rather than buy new

Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:12am EDT
 
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By Catherine Cadell

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some Chinese iPhone owners are giving their old models a makeover to look like the latest iPhone 7, rather than buying new - a trend that could dent Apple Inc's efforts to boost sales in what has been its biggest growth driver.

Online sites offer shoppers makeover kits, false cameras and even dust plugs to hide the removed headphone jack to give their iPhone 6 or 6S the appearance of the iPhone 7 - Apple's latest flagship product which launched last month.

The makeover quirk mirrors a broader view among some Chinese users that the iPhone 7 doesn't have enough new features to convince them to trade up.

"I don't have the money to upgrade, and the (iPhone) 7 is just so-so," said a Beijing-based sales worker, who said he was getting a Shenzhen firm to replace his iPhone 6 back casing with a fake iPhone 7 shell. "I'm changing it to show off," he said, giving only his surname Gao as he wasn't sure that what he was doing was legal.

Searches on platforms including Alibaba's Taobao showed a range of products to transform older phones to an iPhone 7 - from stickers and engraving services to replacing the outer casing and even some of the hardware.

"Now people have money and the Internet, these [modifications] are very convenient to do," said Hu Benshu, who owns an electronics retail outlet in Beijing's popular Zhongguancun technology hub. He added that at his store, Apple's iPhone 4 - launched six years ago - is still the best-seller because of its durability.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. firm posted a third straight quarter of declining iPhone sales globally on Tuesday, and said Greater China revenue slipped 30 percent to $8.79 billion in July-September - despite the partial impact of the new iPhone launch. The company said any bump from iPhone 7 sales would not be seen fully until the current quarter, and a jump in sales was just around the corner.   Continued...

 
Members of the media film the new iPhone 7 at an Apple store in Beijing, China, September 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo