This week its been announced by China Unicom that they're offering up a deal in which if you sign up for a two year contract with them for mobile data, you get an iPhone 4S for free (connected to that contract) - this shouldn't come as a surprise to you UK citizens, nor should it be unfathomable by those of you who read the opinion columns I write up here on SlashGear. If you live in the UK, you already know that you've been able to get the iPhone 4S for free on contract across your nation since it was launched. Those of you following SlashGear columns know that I predicted this situation before the iPhone 4S was ever launched.
I'm not going to go into the details of the deals you can get with the iPhone 4S in the various locations that it's free beyond this: according to Bloomberg, the iPhone 4S on China Unicom in its 32GB iteration is free on a three-year contract, while the 16GB version is free on a two-year contract. Contracts cost you something like $60 USD a month, this converted from 386 yuan, that which the Chinese will pay. For those who own an iPhone or ANY smartphone for that matter here in the USA, that might seem like a pretty good deal - but what it amounts to is a continued misunderstanding of what mobile carriers are accomplishing across the world this very moment.
A cellphone should never have costed money. As I mentioned in that column "Why the iPhone 4S will be Free," mobile device hawkers across the earth are only charging you cash for these devices because they've got you tricked, and tricked well. The real cash comes in with the monthly fees which, in comparison to the devices themselves, are monstrous. Contracts should always erase the cost of the device, as is common across the UK. The iPhone 4S being free in China is a situation that should be common over the whole planet - get wise!