FORTUNE — Maybe China’s “Apple fever” hasn’t broken quite yet.
But a report Saturday in
suggested that the media was watching the wrong stores. Traffic may have been light at the Apple retail outlets that were selling only unsubsidized iPhones (i.e. starting at US $846), but Apple’s partners were having a field day selling the iPhone 5 under contract for as little as US $96. In addition to the 300,000 pre-orders racked up last week by China Unicom (CHU) — up 50% from the 200,000 it took for the 4S last January — the carrier sold 5,000 more before Friday noon in Shanghai alone. China Telecom (CHA), for its part, expected to sell 10,00 units in Shanghai by the end of the day Friday.
Market watchers described the city’s sales as “robust.”
Across the Taiwan Strait in Taipei, Taiwan’s three mobile carriers — Chunghwa Telecom (CHT), Taiwan Mobile (TWM) and Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) — also drew long lines, according to the video report filed by MHz Worldview below.
Meanwhile there was no shortage of enthusiasm — at least among the seemingly endless lines of red-shirted staffers — at Apple Store openings in Hong Kong and Chengdu.
See videos below.