Apple and Foxconn launch China iPhone trade-in program

Foxconn Technology Group will reportedly buy and resell Apple's smartphones as part of a new trade-in program in China.

With the trade-in program in the United States successfully boosting sales in the market, Apple has decided to introduce the program to China -- its largest overseas market -- as soon as March 31, a Bloomberg news report said on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Under the trade-in program, consumers will be able to take used iPhones to Apple stores in China for credit against Apple's other products, Bloomberg said, adding that Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, which manufactures various Apple products from iPhones and iPads to MacBooks, will also take part in the program.

Apple's staff members at its Chinese retail outlet will "assess an iPhone's condition before offering store credit for those originally bought in Greater China", and "Foxconn will buy the phone directly without Apple ever taking ownership", according to the report.

After repairing the devices where necessary, Foxconn will then sell these refurnished handsets on its e-commerce sites eFeihu and FLNet, as well as on the Taobao online store owned by Alibaba Group Holdings.

The report also suggested that Foxconn is planning to "sell the iPhones through physical stores, and may take the trade-in program online in the future".

The China program will further deepen relationships between Apple and its largest supplier Foxconn, according to Bloomberg, which added that Foxconn's flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co earns half of the revenue from making products for the Cupertino-based Apple.

Chinese netizens have generally welcomed the policy, though it is unclear how many credits a consumer could get from selling a used phone to Apple, as the program is completely new to the market, according to Sina news website.

Bloomberg suggested that some US wireless carriers offered up to $300 in credit for old iPhone models to the consumers prior to the debut of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September.

A few Chinese consumers have also complained that the program reportedly only takes in iPhones sold in Greater China regions, as a fairly large number of Chinese people are using Apple products smuggled from the US and Japan due to their relatively cheaper price tags.