Before you buy iPhones in bulk from overseas suppliers, they are subtle differences between the US, Chinese, and Japanese variants you should be aware of, to safeguard your purchase from turning into a regrettable investment.
The differences are divided into hardware, firmware, and cellular.
Pre 2016 Chinese variant charging adapters are different. Also, the Chinese variant of the Xs comes with a dual sim.
You cannot disable the camera shutter sound of the Chinese and Japanese variant except you shoot the pictures as Live Photo’s. It always makes a sound when taking pictures even in silent mode. Asians have a thing for privacy.
On the Chinese variant, no Facetime audio calls can be made or received; Facetime Video, however, can be used. At 10% or 20% battery, the Chinese variant makes a robotic dying sound that can’t be disabled.
Lots of Chinese variant users also complain about not getting GPS and other SIM cards to work correctly in other countries. Certain apps are blocked from the Chinese Apple store, but that’s only if you registered your Apple ID under China.
A Chinese iPhone displays WLAN instead of WiFi. It allows you to set whether an app can access the Internet over LTE or WiFi only.
Taiwan will be displayed as a “Taiwan Province” rather than just Taiwan in the Photo app, and no Taiwanese Flag emojis are selectable or viewable on the Chinese version.
The iPhone has two major bands, GSM and CDMA. The Japanese variants can be swapped in the US and elsewhere. But, due to mobile radio band differences, if you need a significant phone repair, Apple doesn’t swap Chinese variants for a new one except in China. The standard rhetoric from Apple store agents is to get someone flying to China to swap it for you. To check for band compatibility worldwide, visit www.apple.com/iPhone/LTE.
Before buying iPhones in bulk, understand the risk of buying the Chinese variant if you live elsewhere. Same with buying US variants that run on the CDMA band.