Shenzhen customs officers confiscated more than 400 smuggled iPhone 7s in a joint operation with Hong Kong authorities on Friday, the first day the products went on sale, mainland media reported on Sunday.
Chinese customs authorities said they handled more than 60 attempts to smuggle in iPhone 7s on Friday, with most offenders concealing the handsets on their bodies, Xinhua reported.
The first smuggler was caught at 1pm on Friday and had five of the devices on him, Legal Daily reported.
Each person can take one new phone for personal use across the border. A 15 per cent tax applies to extra handsets. People taking in many iPhones are treated as smugglers.
Hong Kong customs tipped off its Shenzhen counterpart about 10 suspected smugglers at 4pm on Friday. Those travellers were found bringing in 44 iPhone 7s strapped to their waist and ankles.
Between 6.30pm and 7pm, Shenzhen officers also picked up seven people with 190 iPhone 7s.
The seized phones were valued at 3 million yuan (HK$3.5 million), Shenzhen customs said.
Officers said most of the smugglers were paid up to 300 yuan for each trip. Offenders would either have to pay the 15 per cent tax or face smuggling charges, reports said.
Hong Kong, the mainland and Taiwan are among the first places to sell the new iPhone models, but sales are limited to pre-orders for now.
Chinese demand for the devices continues to be strong, with the first batch of stock booked out soon after Apple started taking online orders on September 9.
Some scalpers are selling iPhone 7s outside Apple stores in Beijing, demanding hundreds or even several thousand yuan above the sticker price.
Buyers reserving a phone now would have to wait another two or three weeks to receive their purchase, the Beijing News reported.
The jet black model with 256 gigabytes of storage, the most popular version, is priced at over 10,000 yuan on Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.