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Apple halts returns & exchanges in Hong Kong ahead of 'iPhone 8' launch

Apple Hong Kong has stopped accepting most returns and exchanges for online orders made on or after August 15, in what's likely a preeemptive measure against scalpers ahead of this fall's launch of the "iPhone 8," "iPhone 7s," and "iPhone 7s Plus."




The only exception to the new policy is for defective products, which can still be exchanged, Apple said. Typically Hong Kong shoppers have been able to return any undamaged products within a 14-day window.

While technically a part of China, Hong Kong is a cheaper destination for buying iPhones than the mainland, making it a frequent target for both scalpers and smugglers. Apple and government officials have struggled to combat the situation with only limited success.

Indeed last month, mainland customs officers caught a woman attempting to smuggle 102 iPhones worn around her body. Other smugglers have been caught carrying smaller numbers, and of course many people may be successfully infiltrating the mainland.

Apple will likely reinstate more lenient return and exchange policies once the initial demand for new iPhones subsides. That could be many months from now though, given rumors that the "iPhone 8" will only enter mass production in September, the same month as its expected announcement.

The "7s" and "7s Plus" should be available in greater quantities, but may have less appeal apart from price, since they're expected to use conventional LCDs rather than edge-to-edge OLED. They may also be missing other "8" features such as facial recognition and/or a rear autofocus laser.