10 Things a Layman Should Know About Hong Kong iPhone 3G [Updated]

iPhone 3G imageRecently a friend of mine commented that my articles (posts) on the iPhone and its usage in Hong Kong are very helpful, but they are a bit technical for layman user like himself. So, for the sake of helping as many potential iPhone users understand what’s involved before committing to a purchase of an iPhone in Hong Kong, I decided  to summarize some key points here.

  1. All iPhone sold in Hong Kong are “carrier unlocked”. That means you can take the iPhone purchased through legitimate channels1 straight out of the box, place a carrier SIM2 card in the phone and the it will work.
  2. You should not use any “carrier unlocking” software (like Yellowsn0w from the iPhone Dev Team) on iPhone 3G sold through legitimate channels in Hong Kong, because of point #1.
  3. When the say “iTunes” this is the application that manages the synchronization of your iPhone with your computer and all your music. Where as “iTunes Store” is the online store where Apple sells3 music, videos, audiobooks and iPhone applications. The section that sells iPhone applications is called the “iTunes App Store”.
  4. All iPhone 3G sold in Hong Kong requires activation, this is accomplished by connecting it to iTunes, and logging into iTunes Store. So a free iTunes Store Hong Kong account is required. No longer requires an iTunes Store Hong Kong account.
  5. Even if you do not want to pay for any iPhone applications from the iTunes App Store you will have to provide a valid Hong Kong credit card to create an account in the iTunes Store Hong Kong.
  6. All carrier plans have limitations on the type of data traffic included. Therefore you need to be very specific with the sales person when choosing your data plan. For example, Smartone-Vodafone “IOM Value Pack” data plan only covers “web browsing traffic”. It is hard to know what they mean by “web browsing”, but it does not cover traffic generated by the built-in iPhone Mail application, and 40% of the traffic generated by iPhone 3rd party applications. Details of choosing a plan can be found in my post Is Smartone-Vodafone’s IOM Value Pack Right for iPhone?
  7. Unlocking and Jailbreaking software are easily available from iPhone Dev Team for FREE. At this stage, because the procedure is so simple, I would not pay anyone to do either for your iPhone (whether it is a 2G or 3G version) purchased outside of Hong Kong, unless you really have a phobia of technology.
  8. Jailbreak means to hack the iPhone so that you can install Apple unauthorized iPhone applications onto the phone. Jailbreaking does not include unlocking.
  9. The term “Carrier lock” means the iPhone is only usable on a particular mobile phone carrier’s network and SIM card. So “Unlock” means to remove this restriction, and performing an Unlock will include Jailbreaking. Also see point #2.
  10. All iPhones sold outside of Hong Kong usually requires a 2-year contract commitment with the Apple’s carrier partner. In most cases if an iPhone is not activated within 30 days the difference is charged to the purchaser’s credit card. So you should think twice before asking a friend to purchase an iPhone for you overseas.

1 Legitimate channels as of this writing are: Three (“3”) carrier outlets, or Apple Hong Kong Online Store. [Update: February 28, 2009] All Apple Authorized Resellers.
2 The mobile SIM card needs to support GSM frequencies 850, 900, 1800, 1900 or 2100MHz
3 iTunes Store in Hong Kong only sells iPhone Apps as of this writing.

17 Comments

  1. Jailbreaking iPhone 3GS (HK versions or any versions) are fairly straight forward. You can following the two set of instructions at Hack That Phone: Part 1 – Prepare for the Jailbreak and Part 2 – Jailbreak with redsn0w.Whatever you do make sure you read all the instructions carefully before beginning.I would not suggest you leave your iPhone for any stores in HK to perform the jailbreak. They may switch your phone or remove parts from it. It is best to do it yourself.BTW: I had not jailbroke my iPhone for some time, since the unauthorized 3rd party apps had always caused problems after prolong use. I currently do not have any unauthorized 3rd party applications that cause me to want to jailbreak my iPhone 3GS. I strongly suggest you do not jailbreak your iPhone either.

  2. can you jailbreak your iphone 3Gs in HK? and if i have any troubles, would local tech shops be able to jailbreak my phone instead of doing it myself?

  3. Is there any information about a release date or pricing? Its crazy to me that there is no information so close to it being available. Any thoughts?

  4. Hi Jim,Since we have yet to receive the iPhone 3GS in Hong Kong I cannot say that for sure.Although, I can confirm that all iPhones (iPhone 3G) sold in Hong Kong are officially “SIM unlocked” by Apple, and you can use GSM SIM cards from any carriers in the world.As for the iPhone activation through iTunes, in the past users have successfully activated the iPhone using non-HK Apple iTunes Store, hence, non-HK credit cards.As soon as I get my own iPhone 3GS (hopefully this Friday) I will confirm this for the iPhone 3GS too.

  5. Can anyone confirm that if I buy an iphone 3g/3gs from the HK Apple store that I can activate without locking from the US using a US itunes account and US credit card?

  6. It will not be a problem as long as you purchase an iPhone 3G from one of the legitimate source in Hong Kong.All iPhone sold through Apple authorized resellers: 3 mobile outlet, Apple Authorized Resellers and Apple HK Online Store, are; for the lack of a better term, officially “SIM unlocked”. You have to be aware that, that is not the same as the “carrier unlock” procedure performed by Apple's official mobile carrier partners in Taiwan, Australia, France, Belgium and other countries where mobile carriers are required to offer “unlocking” of the iPhone.The “carrier unlock” procedures works in the way where the iPhone's IMEI is sent to Apple by the carrier, when the iPhone is then activated through iTunes the iPhone is “carrier unlocked”.In the case of the iPhone 3G sold through legitimate channels in Hong Kong, they are “SIM Unlocked” straight from Apple at the factory, so they will accept SIM cards from any carriers, including activations through iTunes while outside of Hong Kong.

  7. I'm travel frequently between Sydney & HK. I'm a visiting tecno junkie grandmother who needs to be in touch with my sydney based office on a daily basis.My Vodafone bills are huge.If I purchase an iphone in H.K. will my Australian vodafone Sim work in the H.K. iphone in Sydney.Hope you can help.thanking you in anticipation of your assistance.

  8. Just want to add that I bought the official HK iPhone and was able to activate it using Dutch iTunes with Dutch credit card without problems.

  9. Agus,Yes, the legitimate Hong Kong models are more expensive, but I think you're mistaken on the price. The “legitimate” HK iPhones 3G 16GB should be HKD6200.00 (approximately RMB5466).I suggest you purchase the 8GB version as I explained in iPhone 3G Everywhere in Hong Kong.Legitimate iPhones 3G from Apple HK Online Store and Apple Authorized Resellers in Hong Kong should all be selling the phone at the same Apple SRP of HKD5400.00 and HKD6200.00 for the 8GB and 16GB respectively.I would not suggest you go to any of the small mobile phone stores, as you cannot be certain that what you're purchasing is the “legitimate” Apple HK version. There is actually a big difference between the “legitimate” Apple HK iPhone 3G and the overseas versions. Aside from being unlocked, it is unlocked by Apple at the factory. Therefore, it is even better than the carrier unlocked versions you get from Taiwan, Australia, Belgium or France.For the small amount of price difference, I would suggest you purchase the official version from Apple HK.Note that you will most likely have to activate the iPhone 3G you purchase using an account on iTunes Stores HK, this will require a HK credit card.

  10. Nice posting, thank you so much for this info :)Right now I live in Shanghai. I'm considering to get an 16 GB iPhone next month.Today I made a survey in some electronic market and found that they are offering 2 kinds: America model and HK model.America model is cheaper because they need to be unlocked before it can be use worldwide, while HK model can be use straight away from the box.That brings consequences that HK model is more expensive (4800 RMB) than American model (4200 RMB).How about iPhone price in HK these days?Hope to hear from you soon.

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