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Retailers are slashing iPhone prices across China as consumers say the phones aren’t worth the cost

Apple’s latest iPhone models are facing huge discounts in China as retailers try to sell the struggling devices.

That comes as the top-of-the-line Apple smartphones have posted poor China sales on what experts say are too-high prices for the world’s largest smartphone market and a lack of innovative features compared to local competitors like Huawei. The technology giant itself acknowledged earlier this month that unexpectedly low sales in the Chinese market would likely lead to worse-than-anticipated first quarter revenues.

One of the most recent iPhone cost cuts in the country came from Suning, a large Chinese retailer, which changed the price of the 128GB version of the iPhone XR from 6,999 yuan ($1,036) to 5,799 yuan ($858) — a 1,200 yuan ($178) discount.

Other third-party sellers on the site had the devices for even cheaper, offering flash sales to try to unload iPhones. One seller had a 256GB version of the iPhone XS Max, Apple’s most premium device, for 9,699 yuan ($1,436), way below the U.S. firm’s official selling price of 10,999 yuan ($1,628) for that smartphone.

Still, that remains more expensive than in the U.S., where the same phone would sell for $1,249, according to the Apple website.

And that’s just on one site. Other retailers in China are also putting their iPhones on sale. Sunion, an Apple re-seller, was advertising 700 yuan off for both the 128GB and 256GB versions of the iPhone XR. E-commerce site Pinduoduo, which allows third-parties to sell products, also had hefty discounts across all of the latest iPhone models.

Apple’s issues in China are down to two major factors, experts and local consumers say: It got its pricing wrong, and it has failed to introduce features to excite consumers in a forward-thinking technology market. Now, analysts said, competitors have taken market share in the premium smartphone space.

A matter of price

In a public letter released on Jan. 2, Apple CEO Tim Cook blamed the slowing Chinese economy and rising trade tensions with the U.S. as one of the key reasons for lowering first quarter sales guidance. Experts, however, told CNBC that much of the iPhone’s China problem comes down to the company setting the wrong prices.