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Friday, September 26, 2008, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Hong Kong gets unlocked iPhone; Russian sales begin Oct 3

Apple this week began selling unlocked iPhones through its online store in Hong Kong, allowing customers to active the handsets at home. Separately, the company's phase 3 iPhone launch will continue on October 3rd, when major Russian retailers begin offering the device.

Hong Kong

Earlier this week, Apple updated its Hong Kong website with a huge graphic directing customers to its online store where they can purchase unlocked iPhones for use on any network available in the region.

"iPhone 3G purchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier," the company said. "Simply insert the SIM from your current phone into iPhone 3G and connect to iTunes 8 to complete activation."

An unlocked 8GB model is priced at HK $5,400 (roughly US$700) and an unlocked 16GB sells for HK$ 6,200 (roughly US$800).

The offerings are an alternative to those offered since July 11th by Hutchison Telecom's "Three," where subscribers can purchase the 8GB model for about $377 ($2938 HKD) or the 16GB model for around $479 ($3738 HKD).

Although the iPhones sold by Three are also SIM unlocked, customers must agree to a 24-month contract with monthly fees starting at $24 ($188 HKD) per month.

Hong Kong is amongst the most densely populated areas in the world, with a population of approximately 6.9 million.

Russia

Meanwhile, Reuters has gathered some information on the Russian iPhone launch, reporting that sales will begin October 3rd. This suggests that Apple's phase 3 iPhone launch, which began today in a handful of countries, will be paced over the course of several weeks.

"All retailers will begin sales of iPhone in Russia at the same time, during the night between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3," Nadezhda Senyuk, a PR director at retail chain Tekhnosila, told the news agency.

Rival chain Eldorado and M.video said it too would be in on the action, estimating that it will sell 15,000 of the 150,000 units expected to be sold in the region through the end of the year. It will market the 8GB model for 22,999 roubles ($923.6) and the 16GB for 26,999 roubles ($1,084) without a contract.

That's said to be the same pricing that will be offered through Russia's 'big three' carriers — MTS, Vimpelcom, and MegaFon — each of which inked distribution deals with Apple earlier this year.