Preorders for iPhone 8 surge even as concerns over security

Updated 2017-09-14 14:00:17 Global Times

Preorders for Apple's new iPhones have gotten off to a strong start on e-commerce platforms in China, even as concerns persisted over facial recognition security.

Ten minutes after preorders opened on Wednesday for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus at Apple's flagship store on e-marketplace Tmall of Alibaba, orders grew nearly 400 percent from the year-earlier launch of the iPhone 7, reported on Wednesday. Preorders for the iPhone 8 hit 1.27 million on domestic e-commerce platforms JD and Suning as of 7 pm (Beijing time) Wednesday.

Even before Apple held its pre-launch press conference, scalpers were taking preorders. A scalper from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, told the Global Times via phone that he could buy the first batch of iPhones, with advance payment for the iPhone 8 at 6,500 yuan (5) and the iPhone X at 20,000 yuan.

He said that he had received orders before the official launch and urged a Global Times reporter to place an order as soon as possible.

At the press conference on Tuesday (US time), Apple introduced the new iPhones, which, as had been expected, are all embedded with the smartest chip - A11 Bionic - featuring innovative technologies such as wireless charging, augmented reality and facial recognition, also known as Face ID.

The starting price of the iPhone X is 9 for its 64GB base model, while the prices of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were set at 9 and 9, respectively.

The iPhone 8 series will be open for preorders until September 15 on Apple's official website, but for the iPhone X the preorder period comes about a month later on October 27.

As for security issues surrounding facial recognition, Apple announced that the iPhone X can map a user's face via a sophisticated infrared camera and verify the user's identity through artificial intelligence.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, told the launch event it's possible that another person may have a face that's extremely similar to the user of a particular phone, but the odds are only about one in 1 million, according to a report on Business Insider.

A Beijing white-collar surnamed Chang told the Global Times that though she has concerns over safety issues, she's still considering a preorder for the first batch of the iPhone X.

"Indeed, I worry about the leak of personal information via facial recognition and it may not be convenient to use the function because the machine has to scan your face when you pay. Besides, I wonder whether other people can unlock my iPhone and steal my information," she said.

"I hope the technology can be increasingly mature," she said, noting the commemorative significance of the iPhone X and its "newness" had sparked her enthusiasm.

But in contrast to the surging preorders was a slide in Apple's share price, which observers said mostly reflected delays in preorders for the iPhone X.

Apple's shares saw an intraday drop of 1.6 percent on Tuesday (US time), before closing down 0.4 percent to 0.82.

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