By Zhu Shenshen | 2012-12-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
ABOUT 20,000 iPhone 5 smartphones were expected to be sold in Shanghai in the first 24 hours since sales began at midnight on Thursday.
The majority of Apple's latest phones sold in the city were bought at China Unicom and China Telecom outlets rather than the three Apple Stores.
Market watchers described sales in Shanghai as "robust."
China Telecom was expecting to sell 10,000 phones yesterday while China Unicom said it had sold 5,000 by noon.
There were no comparative figures for their debut sales.
It was the first time the two companies had opened at midnight to sell the latest Apple product.
Apple's three local retail stores began selling iPhone 5 at 7am. The long queues that used to be seen in front of Apple Stores for previous products were not in evidence because customers are not allowed to buy an iPhone without a reservation.
From 8am to 8:30am at the Lujiazui store, only about five people came to pick up their new phones, in stark contrast to the previous Apple product releases, such as the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, which saw hundreds of people queuing overnight.
The new reservation policy also meant that the problem of scalpers buying up phones for resale was circumvented.
Despite no official figures, each Apple Store could sell fewer than 1,000 units in debut sales of previous iPhones because of limited supply.
China is Apple's second-largest and fastest-growing market, and contributes 15 percent of the company's revenue.
Analysts said that to tap into the world's biggest phone market, Apple has to cooperate with China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile carrier with more than 700 million users.
However, at present, no iPhone support China Mobile's TD-SCDMA 3G network.