A pending government approval is likely the major reason that the world's largest smartphone market will miss the rollout of the iPhone 6.
The next-generation iPhone will be available in 10 markets starting Sept 19. Hong Kong is the only Chinese territory to get in on the initial launch.
Apple did not say why the Chinese mainland was not on the list of initial countries to receive the iPhone 6.
The phone is not on Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's list of telecom devices that have been approved to sell on the mainland.
It remains unknown if Apple has not yet handed in applications to the ministry or if the industry watchdog put the US company on hold.
The ministry did not respond to calls from China Daily asking for clarification.
More than a week ahead of the official sale, Chinese scalpers are ready to fill the void.
"We accept preorders of iPhone 6," said a sales manager at Ding Hao Top Electronics City, one of the busiest electronics marketplaces in Beijing. "The devices will be the Hong Kong version and should be available three or four days later," said the manager surnamed Yang.
Kang Hua, a shop assistant at Zhuoyue Haichang, a store at Ding Hao, said the devices will be available for 8,000 to 9,000 yuan ($1,300 to $1,460).
At Sin Tat Plaza, a shopping mall in Hong Kong, retailers are also preparing to feed demand from the mainland.
"iPhone prices are usually driven by mainland customers. The reaction on the mainland to the new phone will lead the trend," said a shop manager who would only give his surname as Yiu.
China is set to be one of the biggest buyers of Apple's new handset, analysts said.
"The customer base for Apple is still there. We are expecting a replacement market for existing Apple users for a larger screen iPhone," said Kitty Fok, managing director of consultancy IDC China.
Xu Hao, a researcher at Analysys International, said Apple is not likely to lose ground in China because of the delays.
"Apple's shipment on the Chinese mainland has been on the upswing over the past two quarters. The foreseeable price cut for earlier versions of iPhones will also lift sales volume in the market," Xu said.
Apple took less than 7 percent of the Chinese smartphone market during the second quarter, according to Analysys International, lagging far behind Samsung and local brands Xiaomi and Lenovo.
Ni Huiliuqian and Amanda Hua contributed to this story.
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